Figures released have revealed that Government expenditure on private firms to carry out health assessments has increased over five times in the last five years.
The staggering figures came to light after a written question by SNP MP Angela Crawley forced Newton to reveal how much money from the public purse has been paid to private firms to carry out health assessments for the Department for Work and Pensions.
Spending in 2013-14 totalled £80.7 million, but skyrocketed to £449.3 million in 2017-18, with this figure covering the cost of health assessments for benefits including PIP, Fit For Work, and ESA, as well as other aspects of assessment such as written and verbal medical advice, and fixed overheads.
UNITE has previously reported that US firm Maximus reported “jaw-dropping” profits from their work carrying out assessments for disability benefits on behalf of the DWP, with the company reporting that profits had doubled since September 2017, with the company raking in a staggering £26m in profits.
The DWP also faced criticism on Tuesday when it was revealed that the department spent £1.7m on social media paid content alone between June 2017 and September 2018, as revealed in a written answer to Parliament.
Work capability assessments have been routinely criticised, with SNP MP Ian Blackford recently asking the Prime Minister if she would work to scrap them after it was revealed that almost one in two women who are the subject of these assessments attempt suicide during or after the process.
Prime Minister Theresa May told him that the impact and quality of the assessments are checked by the DWP “on a regular basis,” but added that she thought it was “right” that the assessments were maintained, saying that they “encourage people into the workplace.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Health assessments provide an essential part of our support for disabled people and those with health conditions, ensuring that millions get the support they’re entitled to.
“These costs cover assessments for eight benefits, including ESA and PIP, and also fixed overheads, administrative costs and investment in new technology. PIP was introduced in 2013 and has been rolled out nationally ever since.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine