Atos given responsibility for new childcare scheme despite previous fitness-for-work fiasco

Last month the firm stepped down from carrying out work capability assessments after its staff received death threats
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The new £2,000 scheme announced by the Government yesterday to help parents with childcare costs will be co-run by the troubled outsourcing firm Atos, it has been revealed.

Despite coming under fire for its role in testing people currently receiving disability benefits, the IT company has been given joint responsibility with the National Savings and Investments (NS&I) to implement the programme which will replace childcare vouchers, The Times reported.

NS&I confirmed that while the French IT services firm will be responsible for the payment aspect of the scheme, it will not be involved in eligibility testing.

Government sources told the newspaper that they were certain the agency is capable of running the programme.

Last month Atos confirmed it was seeking to end its government contract to carry out work and capability assessments after its staff received death threats, the Financial Times reported. 

In a statement, the firm pledged to carry on undertaking the test until a new company was in a position to take over.

Under the tax-free scheme which was announced ahead of the Budget on Wednesday, parents can receive up to £2,000 a year per child from autumn 2015.

The programme will expand and speed up the £750 million-a-year programme announced in last year’s budget, and will affect around 1.9 million working families with children under 12.

Originally, the Coalition planned to provide up to £1,200 per child per year – by meeting 20 per cent of childcare costs up to £6,000 a year per child. The new limit will meet 20 per cent of bills, up to £10,000 a year.