Disability assessment company failed 'in quite an appalling way'
A FORMER charity volunteer has won a legal battle with a Government contracted disability assessor after they failed to provide him with letters he could read.
Controversial assessor Atos initially contacted Dan Glue, from Redland, demanding his Multiple Sclerosis was assessed with a view to getting him back into work.
But because of his condition, which affects how images are sent to his brain, 44-year-old Mr Glue found the print in the letters too small to read and requested a larger print size.
The "curt" response from Atos and their subsequent failure to provide Mr Glue with the adequate documents led to a lengthy legal battle where Mr Glue was finally awarded £1,000 as a form of an apology.
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Mr Glue said the string of letters from Atos left him in fear of losing his Disability Living Allowance.
He told The Post: "They were sending me letters which I knew were trying to take me off Disability Living Allowance. They wanted to analyse me to see if they could make me work.
"So I phoned them up and told them I can't see the letter and at first they said to me 'well you can read the number'. They then told me I had to write to them."
Mr Glue, who worked as a volunteer for Age UK before his MS set in in April 2009, said he requested again and again that the company resend letters so he could see them – a legal obligation under the Disability Discrimination Act.
"They never even assessed me but every time I contacted them they made me feel like I was going to lose out. They weren't expecting I had a real disability," Mr Glue said.
"They were trying their best to make it seem like I was going to pay in the long term," he added.
Eventually, through a chance encounter, Mr Glue was put in touch with the Avon Law Centre, where discrimination lawyer Will Stone took up the case.
Mr Stone threatened to take Atos to court for damages over Mr Glue's unfair treatment, but before a date was set the assessor agreed to pay out and avoid court costs.
Mr Stone criticised the reaction from Atos when Mr Glue asked for letters to be resent with larger print.
"The response he got was quite curt: 'Well if you can read the phone number you can read the letter'," said Mr Stone.
He added: "Atos, although they are a private company, they are carrying out a public duty and function and they have specific requirements to follow.
"What we were saying is they were failing to do that in quite an appalling way really."
He added: "It's a very worrying and stressful situation to be in when you think you are going to have your benefits taken away."
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee last week criticised tests being used to see whether people claiming disability benefits are fit to work.
Atos was paid £112.4m to carry out 738,000 assessments in 2011 and 2012.
Atos chose not to comment on Mr Glue's case.