Privatisation of AtW? Letter to Mr Duncan Smith
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