The controversial firm carrying out “fitness to work” tests on disabled benefit claimants must be sacked, Birmingham MP Liam Byrne has told Labour’s annual conference.
Mr Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said Atos is getting too much wrong and should be dismissed immediately.
The announcement is likely to go down well with activists as the French-run firm, which carries out work capability assessments, has come under heavy fire for the way it deals with claimants receiving or applying for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Incapacity Benefit.
He was speaking at Labour’s conference in Brighton where Shadow Ministers set out policies designed to help people with a “cost of living crisis” – which will be theme of Labour’s 2015 general election campaign.
They include offering parents of primary school children guaranteed access to childcare from 8am to 6pm.
Ed Miliband confirmed that Labour would scrap the Government’s policy of cutting housing benefit for social housing tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms, which Labour has called a bedroom tax.
But Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will today warn that there will be more spending cuts to come – whoever wins the next election.
In his speech to the conference, Mr Balls will say: “We won’t be able to reverse all the spending cuts and tax rises the Tories have pushed through. And we will have to govern with less money around.
“The next Labour government will have to make cuts too. Because while jobs and growth are vital to getting the deficit down – something this government has never understood – they cannot magic the whole deficit away at a stroke.”
He will also reveal that Labour will ask the Office for Budget Responsibility – an independent watchdog set up by Conservative Chancellor George Osborne – to audit the next Labour manifesto, confirming exactly how much it will cost.
A Labour government would impose tough new penalties for employers who fail to pay the minimum wage, with the potential fine soaring tenfold from £5,000 to £50,000 under a Labour administration, it was announced.
And the minimum wage could increase, with a review looking at whether different sectors, such as finance, IT or construction, could afford to pay a higher rate to their staff.