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Click here to see Welfare Weekly’s Disabled To March On Downing Street Over ‘Access To Work’ Changes article (7th September 2015).
You may have seen our amazing flyer, created by the wonderful David Ziggy Greene who is Private Eye’s resident cartoonist. Please feel free to circulate this.
Our “March with us” page has a poster version for you to download and print and another smaller version for use on the web.
Shambolic Access to Work changes force yet another Deaf employee to lose their job.
Come march with us for Access to Work on Saturday 26th September 2015.
Meet us at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA. We will march to 10 Downing Street at 1pm and have a rally at Richmond Terrace afterwards.
The Department of Work and Pension’s Access to Work scheme is supposed to make sure that Deaf and disabled people are able to work on an equal basis to non-disabled people.
But… they are cutting our access, so we are losing our jobs and finding it even harder to get new ones.
We want to work and to have careers, but the Government won’t let us.
Enough is enough. Join us on 26th September. Get our voice heard!
“You may have received a letter or email recently stating that you have under used your Access to Work support package/hours. But this is wrong.
AtW then say that because you have underused your package they will reduce the hours support you have.
This has happened to other people too.
So please check your usage very carefully. What AtW have told you may be wrong.
If you think AtW are wrong, you can ask for a breakdown of the figures and calculation they have used in working out that you have underspent.
If they do not send you these, you can request this again using a “Subject Access Request”.
Please contact StopChanges or DeafAtW if you experience any difficulty.
Please share this.
For those amongst you who are having your Access to Work packages cut and are continuing to struggle with the system, you’ll be pleased to note that Access to Work has been confirmed to be demand led by the minister.
We will be asking for further clarification of this and why support is being cut if money is available.
Please do follow the minister on Twitter and join the debate: @MinisterDisPpl
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.
Share this great, proactive group: https://stopchanges2atw.com/
What an amazing show of solidarity at the weekend. Deaf, disabled people and interpreters protesting with anti-austerity groups, local campaigns and our Trade Unions. Stop Changes were proud to be marching alongside our friends at DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and NUBSLI (Natiojal Union of BSL Interpreters).
Here are some of our favourite pictures.
Following on from the success of Saturday’s march, we hope you will all be joining us on the 26th September.
Please watch and share Jenny’s wonderful TED talk on Access to Work & the closure of the ILF and what it means for Deaf and disabled people.
A letter written to the Guardian was published along with several others addressing the new Minister for Disabled people, Justin Tomlinson. read the full piece here.
• The gap between the rhetoric of the new minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, and the true impact of his government’s policy on disability employment support is staggering. Tomlinson says: “I am pleased that recognising disabled people’s abilities and providing support to enable them to realise their aspirations is higher up the agenda than ever before.” The reality for deaf and disabled people is one where we are increasingly held back from fulfilling our potential, particularly within the field of employment, as a direct result of changes to government policy. On 12 March the DWP published proposals to limit spending on Access to Work, the government’s very successful disability employment support programme. The impact of this will be to set a cap on ambition, restricting the aspirations of deaf and disabled people with anything but minimal support needs and barring people from certain jobs and careers, not because they don’t have the skills but because they have an impairment. Meanwhile, employment rates for disabled people are still below the 2007 figure. We would urge the new minister to think again.
Geraldine O’Halloran Co-founder, StopChanges2ATW
Tracey Lazard Inclusion London
Jenny Sealey Artistic director, Graeae Theatre Company
Ellen Clifford Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
Nicky Evans Secretary, National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters
Below is NUBSLI‘s response to the Daily Mail article “£1million sign language fraudsters guilty of scamming taxpayer to fund luxury holidays including claims to work 21-hours-day” (5th June 2015) – we see this as an attack on Deaf BSL users as well as BSL/English interpreters. We will not allow the government’s divisive tactics to work.
In yesterday’s article, the Daily Mail reported that two sign language interpreters had defrauded the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) via the Access to Work scheme.
The story misrepresents the hundreds of professionals who provide an essential service and take an average of seven years to train.
The National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) have checked the names of the individuals involved and can confirm that neither of the two individuals being charged were members. Whilst it is believed Angela Poole may have been registered as a British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreter, George Taylor was not.
Prior to any allegations of fraud being made, BSL/English Interpreters/translators have been calling for Access to Work to improve their processes and communicate how both professionals and Deaf people could safeguard against fraud. These concerns were raised due to the large numbers of unregulated agencies being used by the DWP. The DWPs failure to monitor agencies is clear. Whilst NUBSLI remain outraged by the behaviour of the two individuals involved, important questions need to be asked of the DWP.
The #ScrapTheFramework campaign was recently established to oppose the government’s bid to establish a national framework for interpreting and translating. The initial drafts of the framework did not provide adequate safeguarding or a requirement for interpreters to be registered. Agencies have the potential to use unqualified people and charge extortionate amounts whilst driving down the fees paid to properly regulated and qualified interpreters and translators.
The article in today’s Daily Mail was a direct attack on both BSL/English interpreters/translators and members of the Deaf community. With the government pushing ahead with caps and changes to the Access to Work scheme that will see Deaf and disabled people struggle to keep their jobs (for more information see: https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com), and the Crown Commercial Services currently trying to establish a framework to drive down interpreters fees, the timing of this article is no coincidence.
NUBSLI will be meeting the new Minister in July to explain more about the BSL/English interpreting profession and the importance of only using registered fully qualified or trainee interpreters. They will also take the opportunity to remind the government that they too rely on BSL interpreters to fulfil their basic statutory duties to Deaf BSL users.