Government contractor must pay £5,000 over dishonest assessment, court decides

A court has ruled that a woman with a disability be paid £5,000 compensation by a government contractor. The was because one of its assessors made a dishonest report that led to her being given insufficient benefits.

The contractor, Atos, is one of the companies that conduct assessments for the UK’s department for work and pensions (DWP). It assesses people claiming employment and support allowance (ESA), and personal independence payment (PIP). These are claimed by many with MS, other diseases, and disabilities.


Vanessa Haley (Pic: Huddersfield Daily Examiner).

The woman who was the subject of the dishonest report is Vanessa Haley, who lives in Huddersfield, England. Her written evidence to the court said the assessor had tried to “impede her entitlement” to PIP by This affected the rate of the daily living component Ms Haley was given and led to denial of mobility support.

The county court awarded Haley £5,000 when Atos failed to offer a defence to her claim for damages. She had alleged maladministration and that it was responsible for causing her health conditions to worsen.

Atos has since explained why it did not defend the legal action. A spokesman said: “We were made aware this week of this judgment. Our initial internal investigation indicates that we did not receive the claim form at our registered office. Until this investigation is complete we must reserve our position.”

Ah, so that’s why no defence was offered. It was not the company’s fault at all. No, it was all down to the postal service. Believe that? No? Nor do I.

Atos made to pay

Speaking after the case, Ms Haley said: “I didn’t do it for the money. I wanted and still do want this diabolical treatment of the sick and disabled to be exposed and stopped.

“It is exhausting constantly being worn down by the machine that is the Department for Work and Pensions and the PIP system. It is rarely absent from my thoughts, and as a result my anxiety is through the roof.”

She told the Disability News Service she was “angry” that she and other disabled people were being “dismissed and lied about”, because “through no fault of our own we have found ourselves in unfortunate and reduced circumstances.

“We are constantly being lied about, repressed and vilified. Many disabled people have become even further isolated by this system and have lost much, if not all of their care,” she said.

This ruling goes beyond what many people have been saying, that assessments are unfair. Now, one assessment  has been labelled ‘dishonest’. And, if one is, you can bet this is not an isolated case; there will be others that are just as dishonest.

Is it too much to expect the DWP to take control of its contractors and to ensure honest assessments? It shouldn’t be but, yes, much too much to expect of this government or its ministries.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.



Disney Disability Access Rules Don’t Break Law, Court Rules

Living with a disability, in my case multiple sclerosis, and having to rely on a wheelchair to travel further than 15 yards, I am more than a little interested in access issues.

Access concessions for people with disabilities are, in reality, not about giving preference to such people. They are to enable those of us with challenges of one kind or another to be able to participate in something as easily as any able-bodied person.


Disneyland Resort Theme Park, Entrance to Magic Morning, Extra Magic Hour, California. (Pic: Alamy).

Misapprehension that the access rules should give priority to those of us with disabilities seems to the thought behind legal cases against entertainment giant Disney. The actions claim the company has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act – all because it changed its access rules back in 2013.

Federal courts in both Florida and California have rejected the cases. In the first to be considered, Judge Anne Conway has determined that Disney’s disability access policy does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Sitting in Florida, she ruled that a man was afforded access on par with other visitors to Disney’s theme parks even if the disability ‘accommodations’ were less generous than he had received in years past.

“Plaintiff was given an opportunity to experience Magic Kingdom in a similar manner as guests that do not need accommodations,” Conway wrote in her ruling.

That seems fair to me. Do we really need to go straight to the front of the line of people lining up? I think Disney have got it right.

Before changing its procedure, Disney had allowed people individuals with disabilities, and everyone in their parties, to bypass long lines for rides.

However, in response to abuse of that system, the company now provides a Disability Access Service Card instead. With the card, visitors with special needs who cannot wait in line can schedule a return time for one park attraction at a time based on current wait times.

One thing that does puzzle me is that to get a card, Disney doesn’t ask for any proof of disability, such as a letter from a doctor. They cite legal restrictions as the reason why. But, whatever they may be, it’s interesting that they don’t prevent the Department of Motor Vehicles from requiring such evidence before issuing a disability parking placard.

 * * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, who has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.