Maximus ‘has falsified results of fitness for work tests’, says MP

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The discredited US outsourcing giant contracted to carry out “fitness for work” tests on behalf of the government has been accused by an MP of “falsifying” the results of assessments.

Labour MP Louise Haigh attacked the track record, ethics and even criminal behaviour of Maximus in delivering public contracts in the US, during a debate on the work capability assessment (WCA).

But she also highlighted what she described as a “disconcerting pattern of behaviour” by Maximus in the UK since taking over the WCA contract from Atos last year.

She said: “There seems to be an alarming trend of cases being rejected based on factual errors or even – I hesitate to say this – falsification.

“I have had several cases of people telling me that their assessment report bears absolutely no relation to the assessment that they experienced with Maximus or Atos.

“One or two cases could be dismissed as an honest mistake, but the situation appears to reveal a disconcerting pattern of behaviour that indicates that the trade-off between cost-cutting and profit maximisation is being felt by very vulnerable people.”

Haigh (pictured speaking in the debate), a shadow Cabinet Office minister, also raised concerns that there was no way for the public to check whether targets set for Maximus by the government – such as the number of serious complaints and the payment of travel expenses within nine working days – were being met.

She said: “That is why we talk about a democratic deficit in outsourced public services, the costs of which have rocketed since 2010 to almost £120 billion, covering vast swathes of services that we all rely on.

“What exactly is the point in setting targets if the public cannot see whether they are being achieved?

“A supplier could manipulate the data, and we would have to rely on an overstretched [Department for Work and Pensions] to pick it up.”

She said that contractors such as Maximus were “undoubtedly failing”, and added: “We will all be forgiven for not wanting simply to trust that all is well when our constituents tell a different story and when well-documented scandals seem to play on a loop.”

Haigh told fellow MPs how Maximus had been fined $30.5 million in 2007 by making tens of thousands of false claims on a payment by results contract which meant that the company “effectively stole money from US taxpayers by making claims for children who had not received care”.

In 2007, she said, Maximus was sued by the Connecticut state government for the “abject failure” of its computer system, which was supposed to provide real-time police record checks, leading the attorney general to say that the company had “minimized quality” and accuse it of “squandering millions of taxpayer dollars”. Five years later, Maximus settled the case for $2.5 million.

Haigh said: “While the US sues companies such as Maximus, which spectacularly fail to deliver the contracts they are required to, we continue to hand over billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”

The US cases she raised were just two of those mentioned by Disability News Service in 2014 when it first revealed that Maximus was set to take over the WCA contract from Atos, despite a “chilling” record of discrimination, alleged fraud and incompetence.

Haigh called on employment minister Priti Patel to publish regular updates to parliament on Maximus’s performance against its targets.

And she asked for a DWP commitment to publish a cost-benefit analysis for bringing the WCA back within the department, when the contract is up for renewal in three years’ time.

Haigh said: “The fundamental problem is that regardless of which hapless and dubious provider is dragged in, and regardless of the operating system and oversight of the WCA, the need of extremely vulnerable individuals simply cannot come in third place behind a need to cut costs and maximise profit.

“Is not the lesson of this whole sorry episode and the episode before it that profit has no place in assessing need?”

Patel said she could not comment on the performance of Maximus in the US, but insisted that there was a “full and transparent contracting process” that enabled DWP to “fully test bidders” for such contracts.

But Haigh asked whether Patel was “seriously saying that previous fraud and theft from taxpayers cannot be taken into consideration when the government are handing out a very similar contract in the UK?”

Patel eventually promised Debbie Abrahams, the shadow minister for disabled people, she would find out if there was “a requirement in the tendering process for disclosure of previous legal action”, although she said she “would be astonished if [DWP] did not have a system for looking back and assessing companies’ previous conduct before we engage with them”.

But Haigh told her: “As a shadow Cabinet Office minister, I can tell her that the guidelines for considering past performance are completely unsatisfactory.

“It is no surprise to me that a contractor with prior performance as appalling as that of Maximus, which has failed so singularly in the past, has been awarded a contract.”

A DWP spokesman said, after the debate: “This contract was awarded in accordance with the government’s EU procurement guidelines, which included the requirement by the company to declare convictions for bribery, fraud, money laundering and debt.”

A Maximus spokesman said in a statement: “The quality of our assessments is incredibly important to us; the decisions we take impact upon people’s lives and we are committed to providing a high quality and fair assessment for all our customers.

“Our assessments are independently audited and there is absolutely no evidence to support the unsubstantiated and misleading allegation that any of our reports contain ‘falsified’ data.

“By contrast, the recent National Audit Office report confirmed that we are meeting the vast majority of our quality targets.

“We are determined to continue to improve standards and are investing in improved training and support for staff in order to do this.”

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  • rik

    When I called DWP to complain about my assessment I was repeatedly told I couldn’t complain about my assessment. I suspect they do that to most complainants therefore effectively reducing recorded complaints

  • Christine Hathaway-Coley

    I had to recently apply for PIPS after being in receipt of high rate care and high rate mobility DLA since 2012. I am now on the standard rate of care for PIPS.
    There were numerous falsehoods in my home assessment from Atos for my PIPS application. One example is the assessor clearly stated that I was able to read two of my medication labels without my glasses and then put them on to read the rest. She was implying I was lying. Thing is I have astigmatism in both eyes so could not physically manage to read the labels at any distance without my glasses. (I might have been able to guess what the meds were from the shape and colour of the boxes but that’s not reading…)
    THEN despite seeing me get out of bed (I’m 80% bedbound with ME) and walk slowly to the bedroom door she inferred that I could reliably and consistently walk 200 metres.
    There were many other ‘inaccuracies’ in the assessment report and I have asked for a mandatory reconsideration but I expect to have to appeal.
    I thought they might err on the side of caution and misinterpret information they receive or behaviour they observe but this isn’t the case at all. THEY LIE.

    • Janice Fraser

      Mine was the same they said i could plan a journey and follow it through unaided but they had to send a taxi for me to get there and to return and i told tge woman i couldn’t get out on my own i rely on my other half

    • Mwxxx .

      Checkout – The Fraud Act 2006 and Misconduct in Public Office (The unqualified quacks at Atos/Maximus count) I put links in a comment above.

      And – Witness Intimidation –
      www -dot- legislation-dot- gov -dot- uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/51
      If any of the dwp’s gang has threatened or caused you financial harm since their… ahem… ‘Assessment’.

      And of course – Abuse of Vulnerable Adults –
      www- dot- gov -dot- uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/194272/No_secrets__guidance_on_developing_and_implementing_multi-agency_policies_and_procedures_to_protect_vulnerable_adults_from_abuse.pdf

      .

  • Tony Turtle

    The problem is not just Maximus getting things wrong, it then falls to a “Decision Maker” who doesn’t need to be medically qualified. It is these DWP minions that decide people with genetic or progressive illnesses are going to get better!

  • Mwxxx .

    A Maximus spokesman said in a statement: … “Our assessments are independently audited and there is absolutely no evidence to support the unsubstantiated and misleading allegation that any of our reports contain ‘falsified’ data.

    Here is some EVIDENCE –
    www -dot- phobosanddeimos -dot- net/the-dwp-and-maximus-no-esa50-fraud/

    So Maximus where are the (your) Police?
    So MP’s where are the (your) Police?

    She (MP Louise Haigh) said: “There seems to be an alarming trend of cases being rejected based on factual errors or even – I hesitate to say this – falsification.”
    Why won’t that (or any) MP say “Fraud” or “Criminal Vulnerable Adult Abuse”?
    The dwp’s “Decision Makers” are members of unions like PCS. Where does the Labour party get it’s cash from?
    Did MP Louise Haigh vote for The Bribery Act 2010? –
    www -dot- legislation -dot- gov -dot- uk/ukpga/2010/23/contents

    Has she (and the Police) not heard of The Fraud Act 2006? –
    www -dot- legislation -dot- gov -dot- uk/ukpga/2006/35/contents

    Or Misconduct in Public Office? –
    www -dot- cps -dot- gov -dot- uk/legal/l_to_o/misconduct_in_public_office/

    Or Perverting the course of justice? –
    www -dot- cps -dot- gov -dot- uk/legal/p_to_r/public_justice_offences_incorporating_the_charging_standard/

    Or any other Law/Crime?

    .

  • uksnapper

    “By contrast, the recent National Audit Office report confirmed that we are meeting the vast majority of our quality targets.”

    Lets have facts,figures not words.
    Figures tell it how it is words misdirect.
    so how about a percentage or better still actual numbers of processed people that were wrongly processed.
    Any other answer or statement is about as valuable as a government misister,and they have precious little currency here in the UK

  • Robert Feather

    A DWP spokesman said, after the debate: “This contract was awarded in
    accordance with the government’s EU procurement guidelines, which
    included the requirement by the company to declare convictions for
    bribery, fraud, money laundering and debt.”

    So, who were the other companies, tendering for that contract?

    And how bad must they have been, to have been passed over, in favour of
    a company with prior convictions for fraud, and inventing fake data?

    If I were able to speak directly to the board members of those other
    companies, I would ask them whether they had considered legal action.
    Because the DWP just libelled you.
    They claimed you were more incompetent, more corrupt, than a company fined $33million for false invoicing.
    So, if you *don’t* come back with a counter attack, we’ll have to assume you’re admitting your guilt.

    What’s it going to be?

  • Stephen John Davis

    I’ve got proof; it has nothing to do with my fitness to work but the assessor wrote down, ‘no evidence of cyanosis.’ There is rather clear evidence and proves she was a liar. She also wrote down the wrong name to make it difficult to complain, said I spelled a word correctly although I wasn’t asked to, said I had moderately high bp even though I had critical hypertension, said there was no evidence of life threatening conditions and I have 2 that are, said I passed a memory test even though I didn’t, said I had no difficulty coping with change even though I wasn’t aware of any change, said I had normal movement even though I complained the test put me in pain. Bunch of fucking Nazi’s.Not so much falsified, more fucking lying. What’s even more interesting is that they used a 2 year old medical report, but she mentioned full spine Forestier’s disease which doesn’t happen to appear in the medical report; implying they have seen something and are hiding it. Murdering fucking Nazi’s.