Fitness-to-work test firm defended

An official in the firm carrying out tests to see if people on disability benefit are fit for work has defended her company's performance against "inaccuracies and misinformation".

Atos has come under fire over the so-called work capability assessments amid claims that people are being wrongly recommended for work, or put through stressful medical interviews.

Lisa Coleman, who is in charge of Atos's contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said she was always willing to listen to any grievances and make improvements where necessary.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's You And Yours programme, Ms Coleman said there was "a lot of misinformation" and "factual inaccuracies" over the assessments.

She said: "We are required to treat people with compassion and care, and provide the right information for the DWP to make the correct decision.

"We are meeting the requirements of the contract. There are always things we can do to improve the service and we are open to feedback."

Ms Coleman said Atos did not have targets for taking people off benefit. She described complaints the programme put to her from people who said they found the assessment process stressful as "clearly worrying".

"We look at every complaint individually. We have made improvements," she added.

A DWP spokesman said: "We are committed to help thousands of people move from benefits and back into work if they are capable while giving unconditional support to those who need it.

"Since 2010 we have considerably improved the work capability assessment process. As a result, the percentage of people getting long-term unconditional support has more than doubled in two years."