Monthly Archives: February 2014

“People with difficulty hearing” fraud Vs MPs expenses

Mike Penning MP is using the argument that changes are needed to the Access to Work system due to the number of fraud cases that have occurred.

Access to Work, currently supports 4,740 people with “difficulty hearing” (DWP Official Statistics: January 2014). David Buxton from the British Deaf Association, referred to a fraudulent claim rate of 0.3% for signing interpretation support (http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2014/January/appdg-meets-Mike-penning). Without taking into account the number from this group who aren’t sign language users, the number of cases would therefore crudely amount to no more than 15 cases.

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In 2009 an MP expenses scandal was exposed. Sir Thomas Legg was brought in to produce a report reviewing the Additional Costs Allowance (ADA), (otherwise known as the “second home allowance”). In it, he states that of the 752 MPs and former MPs concerned, 52% had been recommended to make repayments (paragraph 99). That’s 391 MPs!

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The numbers speak for themselves, yet MPs are allowed to make “repayments” and are not labelled as fraudsters.

We don’t think it’s fair either!

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Access to Work article – Limping Chicken.

This morning I read Ian Noon’s article on Limping Chicken about his problems with AtW. Read it here. In it he describes his situation, saying:

I just want to do my job. I am tired of having to fight endless battles with faceless bureaucrats.

He also highlights another issue, which we are concerned about; that is peoples ability to complain. People often don’t feel confident enough, or are scared that what little support they are receiving will get taken away.

There is a brilliant resource available to help you complain about Access to Work: www.deafatw.com. It has sample letters to help you and also explains clearly what you need to do.

A moment ago, I spotted the following tweet from @DWPgovuk:

Is your job at risk? Here is some useful advice from Money Advice Service on managing your money ow.ly/tOvuH

We know several people who’s jobs are being put at risk, not by their employer… by Access to Work’s guidance!

Help us challenge this.

We need as much support as possible to help us with this campaign. If you haven’t yet signed, please do!

A gentle reminder to government of the Disability Employment conference.

On 18th July 2013, the Prime Minister gave a speech at the Disability Employment conference. Just over six months later, we feel the government needs a reminder of this speech.

In it the Prime Minister spoke emotively about disability:

Now, last summer, Britain’s Paralympic Games opened the eyes of the world to see disability in a different way. As we lined our streets to cheer on those great Paralympians, the conversation was no longer about what disabled people can’t do, but they were about the awe-inspiring things they can do. That should be the great legacy of our national heroes like Ellie Simmonds, Dave Weir, Sarah Storey: the chance to change perceptions of disability, and to open the door for the talents of all disabled people in our country.

He went on to say:

And this goes to the heart of my argument this morning, because I passionately believe that employing disabled people is the right thing to do. It is right for disabled people. It is right for business, and it is right for our country too. And I want to speak briefly in turn about each of those.

Of course, there are some disabled people who have more complex needs and can never be expected to work, and we will never expect them to do that, and we will always support them. That is what a compassionate country should do. But many disabled people can work and in fact want to work, and with the right adjustments, work is good. And it is absolutely right that we should do everything possible to support them.

At the same time that this was happening, the government had already changed Access to Works guidance, introducing the idea of salaried support. Whilst talking about all working together to break down the barriers for disabled people the government were beavering away in the background creating some nice new ones!

Access to Work has been described as one of the few systems that actually works. It does what it’s meant to do and has been very effective, providing flexible support and enabling the Deaf or disabled AtW customer to have choice and control over their support. But the best thing about it is that it costs the government nothing, in fact it makes them money! For every £1 spent, the treasury reaps £1.48.

The current guidance makes no economic sense and erodes deaf and disabled peoples access to employment. The Prime Minister ended his speech by saying:

That focus on what people can do is the key to how we change perceptions of disability in our country. It is how, together, we will increase the employment of disabled people in Britain and it’s how, together, we will keep alive that wonderful legacy of those brilliant Paralympics for generations to come.

Thank you very much for listening. Can I wish you the best for your conference and can I hope that, out of this, we persuade many more employers to employ disabled people and we create more opportunities for disabled people in our society. That’s what today is about; that’s why this work is so vital, and that’s why it has my 100% backing.

….perhaps he’s forgotten!

That wonderful legacy didn’t even last six months.

You can read the full speech here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/disability-employment-conference-prime-ministers-speech

Positive meeting with Minister & new member.

Three campaign representatives braved the rain and headed to the Houses of Parliament to meet the MP currently supporting our work today. It was an extremely positive meeting.

We have agreed lots of different strands to the campaign and have gained a lot of support over the past week, attending different meetings. DPAC are also now supporting us, which is fantastic news.

We also have a new member of the campaign group who we are extremely excited about working with.

You can expect a lot more news from us very soon!

A lesson in basic maths!

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BDA Deaf lobby day.

On Monday 17th March 2014 at 2.30pm, the BDA have arranged for members of the deaf community to go to the Houses of Parliament to meet MPs and talk about their concerns. They are calling it the Deaf lobby day. You can find out more about it here.

This is a great opportunity to go and talk about Access to Work and how the new guidance is creating new barriers for Deaf people gaining, maintaining and progressing in employment.

Don’t miss out! ….Have your say!