3 must reads: Why our recommendations are needed.
Fraud is a problem for any financial scheme. But whereas all other financial institutions have taken steps to use the latest technology to improve and safeguard themselves against this, the government are still using a paper based form established in the 90’s. They have a responsibility to safeguard public funds.
3 must reads that show why our recommendations that we made in our Barriers to Work report (published October 2017) are needed:
1. The first is today’s @Limping_Chicken blog. This piece was written anonymously by someone who has seen the impact of AtW fraud first hand. An extract from the piece:
There is a way to make sure fraud on this scale does not happen again and that other people do not have to go through the same experience. For this to happen, Access to Work must take some responsibility for their role in a number of fraud cases and make changes.
Access to Work is there to provide the right support for disabled and deaf people to get into work and make successful careers.
Deaf people use BSL/English interpreters and the appropriate invoice has to be submitted by the interpreter on completion of their work, with necessary details, such as their registration number, address, hours worked and fee.
However, in this recent case, a number of fraudulent invoices were submitted to Access to Work. They were fictitious. The money obtained fraudulently was being used to pay for the salaries of Deaf employees.
Once you apply for Access to Work and have your funding agreed, often the Access to Work team ask you for the names of the interpreters you want to work with you, along with a quote for their services.
There did not seem to be a process in place where Access to Work actually checked that the people Deaf people were using were actually interpreters, which meant false names and details were easily given.
How could the Access to Work team allow for the option for payments to be made directly to the Deaf person or the employer? Why is this option included when Access to Work know that historically is has been open to abuse?
There’s a simple solution – remove this option and make payment to the interpreters directly.
Come on, something needs to be done. The Department of Work and Pensions need to ensure that Deaf users of Access to Work fully understand how the system works, that the funding is for their communication needs and not as revenue to pay for their employees’ salaries.
2. The second is the blog #InterpretingSigns from two years ago. Again this places some of the blame for AtW fraud at the governments feet. An extract from the piece:
Here is a system that isn’t accessible (to an extent that the end customer (the Deaf Access to Work user) can’t always understand the forms and needs support completing these), relies heavily on the customer to do the bulk of the administration and where any contact with the DWP has become so stressful that they feel unable to ask for support or advice when needed.
Having been involved in Access to Work campaigning in various guises over the years, I have been continually frustrated by the DWP’s lack of response to our concerns over fraud. I have attended meetings over the past three years with various senior DWP staff/Ministers and have fed back the concerns of both the deaf community and interpreters. Information being provided by advisors is continually inconsistent and interpreters who work for three different clients could be paid using three different processes.
3. And finally a piece by Deaf AtW. @BATOD_UK had to ask #DeafAtW to produce an accessible AtW guide for school leavers! What an absurd situation, when we are having to rely on our own resources to try to inform our community about a government scheme!
This shows the extent to wish the government are failing us.
The guide can be read here: https://www.deafatw.com/updates.html
Each of these, show why our recommendations are needed. We have asked that:
5. Introduce digital systems to improve delays, reduce inefficiencies and tackle fraud
5.1 An online claims system for AtW would protect both customers and support staff from fraudulent activity and reduce the rate of delays due to missing forms.
5.2 Online payment processing would reduce delays and incidences of payments missing in the post.
The full list of our recommendations can be read here: https://stopchanges2atw.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/accesstoworkrecommendations_web.pdf