Gordon has accused the Government’s benefits assessors ATOS of leaving Blackpool claimants in the lurch after they discontinued without warning the ability of people to have assessments in the town – forcing them to go over 20 miles to a centre on the outskirts of Preston.
People being assessed for the new benefit replacing DLA – the Personal Independence Payment – were being seen at a temporary centre at Warbreck House after Gordon (alongside Blacpkool CAB who alerted him to the issue as Blackpool South’s MP) had a nine-month campaign, including questions in the Commons and letters to Ministers and a meeting with ATOS, which culminated in their agreeing to set up a temporary facility.
He has now been told by ATOS that because they have lost another contract they cannot offer appointments in Blackpool until a new potential centre is opening in the summer, for which no details are yet available.
Gordon has now written sharply to ATOS, saying they failed to inform him they had pulled the facility saying that ‘the situation is now that people in Blackpool are being sent off to appointments in Preston again with all the extra cost, hardship and stress for them which led me to press you for a proper Blackpool centre in the first place. You remain responsible for PIP assessment and should live up to the undertaking and responsibilities you gave originally.’
He said: "Quite frankly, this is a disgrace and underlines the failures of Iain Duncan-Smith and the Coalition Government in outsourcing assessments to agencies like ATOS which are letting people down.
"It’s a disgrace that ATOS are sending vulnerable people from Blackpool again to Preston – without having announced anything – after they’d had to be shamed and pressed for failing to set up a proper assessment centre in Blackpool when they got the PIP contract. I am going to keep pressing them on this until they do.”