Atos is a French multinational information technology services company that boasts annual revenues of £7bn and 74,000 employees in more than 40 countries.
No stranger to controversy in the UK – it left a memory stick of government passwords in a pub in 2008 and was blamed for this year's Border Agency computer meltdown – Atos has attracted notoriety and loathing for its role in assessing disability benefit eligibility.
Some 40% of the people that Atos finds “fit for work” appeal that decision (through an increasingly pressured and overloaded appeals system), and about 40% of those have the original Atos decision overturned – a figure that can rise to 70% if people have welfare rights advisors supporting them.
Atos seems to be doing the government's dirty work: cutting social security rather than fairly assessing eligibility for benefits. There is a growing number of reports of people in poor health or with severe disabilities being found fit for work. And the government's own studies show that more than half of those ruled fit for work are left unemployed and without income.
Yet although its performance has been criticised by government-appointed experts and the National Audit Office, Atos continues to win government work, including a £400m contract to carry out further disability tests. Perhaps, as in Scotland, it intends to subcontract the work to the NHS.
Atos is nominated for:
Finding people fit for work who clearly are not. Some subsequently died, and relatives blame the assessment process.
(Source: ITV News 27/9/12, Huffington Post 26/9/12, Daily Record 24/9/12, Independent 25/9/12, Telegraph 30/7/12, Guardian 3/10/12)
Leaving vulnerable people without benefits or income in a jobs market where there simply aren't enough jobs to go round.
(Source: Daily Record 26/9/12, Guardian 8/4/12)
Operating a process that has overloaded the courts system to breaking point.
(Source: Guardian 15/3/12, Guardian 19/3/12)
Attempting to airbrush its way out of controversy by sponsoring the Paralympics.
(Source: Independent 29/8/12)
Making huge profits out of other people's desperation.
(Source: Daily Record 2/10/12)