Monthly Archives: February 2016
– Find out and feed into the latest Access to Work developments
– Speak up about any problems you are currently experiencing
Since the #StopChanges2AtW campaign was set up in October 2013 a lot has happened. Some of the problems that were emerging with Access to Work got better as a result of lobbying by us and other groups. The experience of being in a campaign that brings together Deaf and Disabled people and interpreters has also been brilliant – in some ways a learning curve for all of us, but one that has been very worthwhile and made us stronger together. There are still problems with Access to Work we need to raise and lobby to change including the introduction of the cap and the prospect of privatisation among others.
At the meeting on 10th March we will recap on what the campaign has done so far and agree on our key priorities moving forwards.
Everyone welcome whether you have been involved in the campaign previously, want to get involved now or just want to hear what’s going on.
The venue is wheelchair accessible and BSLI communication support will be provided.
For other access needs or for more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about #StopChanges2AtW go to: https://stopchanges2atw.com/
You may remember our letter which we sent to DWP in response to the article in the Mirror last week about the privitisation of Access to Work. See our post here: https://stopchanges2atw.com/2016/02/04/privatisation-of-atw-letter-to-mr-duncan-smith/
Thank you for your email of 4 February to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, concerning Access to Work.
I hope that you will understand that Government Ministers receive a large volume of correspondence and are unable to reply personally on every occasion. I have therefore been asked to respond and I hope that the following is helpful.
On behalf of this Department, I would like to confirm that no decisions have been made on the future delivery model of Access to Work and there are no current plans to privatise the service.
The Autumn Spending Review settlement awarded Access to Work with a real-terms increase in resources and, as a result, the Minister for Disabled People has commissioned a feasibility study to explore how Access to Work can help the greatest number of customers possible. Part of this feasibility study will include investigating potential future delivery models and whether any could extend customer reach beyond what Government can deliver, by having the capacity to leverage additional external funding for example.
We have published an Invitation to Tender for an external Consultancy firm to conduct the study. Independent experts are removed from Government and can therefore impartially explore the various potential delivery options and will have previous experience in this area of work.
The independent experts may liase with external stakeholders, as well as key staff amongst Access to Work Operational and Strategic divisions, to identify challenges and opportunities of the various potential delivery options.
It is important to remind stakeholders that officials are still in the commercial process of inviting tenders from potential suppliers and subsequently the study has not started yet. Furthermore, this means that no decisions on the future delivery of the scheme have been made.
Stakeholders will be kept well informed of any significant Access to Work related changes.
Ministerial Correspondence Team
StopChanges2AtW were appalled to read the piece in yesterdays Mirror which talked of a memo they had seen about the privatisation of Access to Work. Read it here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/iain-duncan-smith-blows-200k-7303072
Today, StopChanges2AtW sent the following letter to the DWP:
Dear Mr Duncan Smith
We are writing to ask you to comment on the piece published in yesterday’s Mirror on a memo regarding the privatisation of Access to Work:
We were surprised to hear about this at a time when you and your department have publicly committed to significantly increasing the numbers of disabled people in work, and increasing employers disability confidence. We believe, and suggest evidence shows, that such a change would be likely to work against these goals.
Access to Work is widely accepted as bringing money into the treasury so the justification for wishing to privatise the scheme is unclear. Despite the government having since refuted the figures which were initially accepted (Sayce report showing the treasury recouping £1.48 for every £1 spent), no evidence has been provided to disprove these amounts. As part of the Work & Pension Select Committee inquiry recommendations it was suggested that government undertake a cost-benefit analysis of Access to Work expenditure, including its likely long-term impacts on social security expenditure and income tax returns. (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmworpen/481/481.pdf) This piece of work has never been completed.
We will be publishing our findings of a survey we conducted with Access to Work users which show that there have been widespread cuts to individual budgets. This is contrary to the proposed changes outlined in the Equality Impact Analysis (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/426416/future-of-access-to-work-equality-analysis.pdf) which suggest only the introduction of caps to high cost users defined as spending over £40,800.
Deaf and disabled people have consistently fed back that their experience of privatised services is that they are less accountable, less flexible and less customer focussed. Just when you are making improvements to the Access to Work scheme, this work looks set to be undone.
Access to Work is currently a demand led scheme, with in principle no fixed budget. If a charity or private company is brought in this would clearly have to change, fundamentally changing the principles underlying the scheme.
Also as experience has demonstrated, bringing a need for profit into such a service provides a powerful perverse incentive to reduce the value of awards, despite needs.
Further, any organisation brought in would have a fixed term contract. As experience has shown with other such contracts, the regular transitions to a new provider have a major negative impact on customer support and prevent the build up of necessary expertise, resources and relationships.
Should privatisation go ahead, the government are likely to see Access to Work users increasingly give up work, as the pressures being placed on them to reduce the support they need become a barrier to continued employment.
We await a response at your earliest convenience.
Stop Changes To Access To Work