Pre-action letter sent to Iain Duncan Smith (DWP)
On 21st November, human rights lawyers at Leigh Day law firm sent a pre-action letter to Iain Duncan Smith. The letter was set on behalf of the Stop Changes campaign: a group made up of Deaf people and disabled people and interpreters. The group have come together to coordinate a united response to the government whose recent changes to the Access to Work scheme have created additional barriers to Deaf and disabled people seeking employment, and placed jobs and businesses at significant risk.
Access to Work provides vital support to Deaf and disabled people, such as travel grants, special aids or equipment and support workers, removing barriers to employment. It transforms lives and safeguards careers. As a scheme it should be celebrated on a par with our NHS. We should be extremely proud of AtW, we should all be defending it and holding it up as a model for other countries to adopt, not destroying it.
This governments agenda isn’t to support, it is to demonise communities to justify cuts. Deaf and disabled people achieving in employment and being successful in their own businesses flies against what this government would have you believe: that Deaf and disabled people are scroungers and a drain on society. They would have you believe that interpreters are profiteering from the public purse, rather than being highly trained, skilled workers performing a vital role. They don’t want you to know about the Deaf man who was forced give up his role as a director of his own business and replace himself with a hearing person, or the woman who is having to sell her shop as she can’t communicate without interpreting support. They don’t want you to know that highly successful Deaf and disabled people in work are being forced out of work and on to benefits. We do.
Leigh Day are helping us make challenges to unlawful government actions. These include not making guidance publicly available and inconsistent and arbitrary cuts or suspensions in support. Ugo Hayter, from Leigh Day explains that “The failure by the Department of Work & Pensions to publish clear guidance on such a crucial scheme is, we believe, unlawful”. The DWP have 14 days to respond or legal action will be taken in High Court.
Whilst our campaign is specifically about AtW, our work supports others fighting for the wider social and financial inclusion of Deaf and disabled people in society. Support us, by signing our petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-changes-to-access-to-work We are fully reliant on donations in taking this case to judicial review. Donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/stopchanges2atw
Access to Work isn’t a benefit. Deaf and disabled people in employment is. Society benefits.