Access to Work … underspent….? A disgraceful track record.

Campaigner and member of Stop Changes, Penny Beschizza has today sent a damning open letter highlighting the shocking disregard for Deaf and disabled people who have experienced two years of difficulty as a result of the Access to Work scheme by the new Minister for Disabled people, Justin Tomlinson. 

Speaking in London the minister revealed that AtW was underspent, this despite having made cuts to working Deaf and disabled people’s budgets.

Stop Changes contacted Kate Green MP, the shadow minister for disabled people and asked her to comment. She said:

Access to Work helps disabled people get, keep or progress at work. And it’s good value for the taxpayer: according to the independent report by Liz Sayce, every £1 spent on A2W yields £1.48 to the exchequer. Sayce also described it as the “government’s best kept secret”, and the news that it’s underspent shows minsters still aren’t doing enough to promote it. At the same time, Deaf and disabled people have had awards refused or reviewed without good reason, and face a cap on their awards in the future. It’s a disgraceful track record from a government that isn’t doing nearly enough to help disabled people into employment.

This is the full blog piece featured in today’s Limping Chicken: 

Deaf campaigners express shock and disgust as Disability Minister boasts £3 million of Access to Work budget was UNSPENT (Posted on June 25, 2015) 

Deaf campaigners against cuts to Access to Work, which offers support for Deaf and disabled people at work, have expressed their shock and disgust at the news that £3 million of the budget for 2014/15 was left unspent.
As this site has repeatedly reported, during the last 2 years, Deaf people in work have suffered from having communication support suddenly withdrawn, long delays for decisions, and poor attitudes from DWP staff who administer the scheme.

These problems have led to many Deaf people questioning their future careers. Some have lost their jobs, while others have taken sick leave due to stress as a result of the problems they’re facing getting support.

So it came as a shock to find out, via an article on Recruiter website that the Disability Minister has been boasting that 3% of the Access to Work budget was left unspent:

A government minister has urged employers to take advantage of government funding to increase the numbers of disabled people in work.
Speaking at an event in London this morning to promote Disability Confident, a campaign to remove barriers to employment for disabled people, minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson revealed that £3m of last year’s £100m Access to Work budget was unspent.

“There is money available,” said Tomlinson, as he reiterated the government’s commitment to getting 1m more disabled people into work, thereby halving the ‘disability employment gap’.

The news that “money is available” will come as a surprise to Deaf people who’ve had their support taken away. If money was there, why weren’t they given the support they needed?

In an open letter, Penny Beschizza, a Deaf campaigner said:

The fact that £3 million of Access to Work money being underspent during 2014 beggars belief; look at the way deaf and Disabled workers suffered through unheeded cuts and unprofessional behaviour by DWP/AtW staff, loss of prestige, loss of work, and so on.

There are case studies, but these are only the tip of an iceberg of demoralised Deaf & Disabled workers who experienced unjustified treatment in their support from AtW.

I have met Deaf teachers, Deaf Instructors, BSL and Deaf Education (deaf) professionals who had real AtW challenges and experienced breakdown of support through un-Deaf-friendly communications from Access to Work.
Significantly, they are not keen to become case studies, because of fears that such disclosures would imperil their careers.

Please do headline the issue with other unions and allies.

The Government has gone too far, wasted taxpayers’ money on unconsulted changes to AtW.

BUT worse of all, the way the Government allowed Access to Work to be sabotaged has robbed UK citizens.

FACT: many charities funded by donations have had to use funds to fight the DWP on our behalf in the past two years.

UK citizens have been ‘taxed TWICE’ – their giving towards organisations and charities concerning Deaf & Disabled people and young people have been swallowed up by the voluntary sector’s incredible work on our behalf.

Therefore, ministers and civil servants did not carry out their jobs transparently and efficiently – abusing our taxes in the process.

The last twelve months’ ‘remedy’ to resolve the carnage of Deaf and Disabled people’s support in the workplace cannot excuse the Government its action in the previous year’s ‘genocide’ of sustainable employment.

Thank you for supporting us Deaf & Disabled workers.

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Posted on June 25, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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