People and Planet based in Oxford have paid internship vacancies available in a fully accessible workplace.
Their latest campaign is around challenging racist narratives in the media and promoting ethical journalism on migrant’s rights.
This sits alongside our fossil fuel divestment campaign and our workers rights campaign in the electronics industry in the globalSouth.
For more information see hhtps://peopleandplanet.org/work-with-us
It’s difficult if not impossible to adequately define the outcomes of Brexit for anyone living in the UK let alone for disabled people. The result where a small minority of the electorate voted to leave the EU has so far caused massive political turmoil but no concrete proposals as the new unelected Prime Minister, Teresa May, thrashes around wildly clutching at straws.
What is certain is that the promise of an extra £350 million a week for our National Health Service has not and will not be forthcoming. In fact this promise promoted widely by the Leave campaigners in the Tory Party and a reason why many UK citizens were conned into voting to leave turns out to have been an outright lie.
Many of the more deluded disabled people who also voted to leave did so simply because they wanted to punish David Cameron the then Tory Prime Minister who was stupid enough to call a referendum in the first place. Having resigned first as Prime Minister and then a little later as a Member of Parliament I’m sure the multi-millionaire Cameron is indeed ‘suffering’. What is certain that disabled people will.
As soon as the outcome of the referendum was known Cameron together with a whole host of Leave politicians turned their backs on guiding the UK through the Brexit process – no doubt so they don’t get blamed for the ensuing disaster.
The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want to leave the EU and in the case of Northern Ireland the Good Friday agreement and peace process means that there must be a parliamentary vote if Northern Ireland is to leave the EU. There is also a legal challenge to seek a parliamentary vote on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum is advisory only. So chaos reigns as the UK population dangle precipitously in limbo.
As well as months spent focussed on the referendum campaign, the immediate aftermath was an election for a new Tory Party Leader and a second internal party election to try to remove the previously democratically elected Labour Party leader. During these many months of political bat and ball and trips around the country by various politicians the rights of disabled people have largely been forgotten especially by the media. Serious campaigning has been put back months as the political focus has been firmly placed elsewhere.
On a plus point the fascist party UKIP which very much led the Brexit campaign on an anti-immigration stance have also fallen into disarray and appear on the verge of oblivion. There have already been several elections for a new leader with none of them being successful in finding someone who stayed more than a couple of weeks. As the old British saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining”
What is certain for the UK is that Brexit has led to a massive increase in race-related hate crime and there is no doubt those who perpetrate these crimes feel their actions are vindicated by the vote to leave. Xenophobia is rampant in parts of the country fuelled by some of the media as well as the Brexit campaign rhetoric. Disability hate crime has been rising year on year since 2010 in part thanks once again to the media-fuelled ‘useless eater’ and scrounger propaganda. For disabled people as well as those perceived to not be British hatred and abuse is only likely to increase in the post-Brexit frenzy that currently pervades the country.
Since Brexit as well the value of the pound has slumped which has already led to an increase in price for even essential daily items including for some the #Marmitegate tragedy where the price of Marmite has already risen in some cases by 12.5 % in shops.
Price increases for food and other essential items is likely to pose a particular problems for disabled people and others in receipt of UK Social Security payments as there is an austerity-led freeze on the amount of benefits which will be paid until at least 2020. The UK already has some of the lowest rates for out-of-work benefit payments in the EU so starting from a very low base rate the value of payments will fall even further as exchange rates fall.
On top of this fall in the value of the pound and freeze on increases in social security payments early in November an austerity-led cap on the total overall amount of benefit payments per household will result in massive reductions of £3,000 less per annum being paid to claimants. Many of those affected by this drastic cut will be disabled although other disabled people will be exempt from this cut.
From next April 2017 disabled people who make a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance and who are found not to be fit for work but able to undertake Work Related Activity which involved forcibly being made to jump though inappropriate and unacceptable hoops to continue being entitled to payments will also see their weekly income cut drastically by one-third. All of these changes will as already said be taking place at the same time the value of the pound falls against other currencies. Needless to say fuel prices are also continuing to rise and the number of UK residents on low incomes who have to choose between eating and heating because they can’t afford both continues to rise.
As disabled people and others wait for the mythical 35 million a day that we’re apparently saving by leaving the EU to be redeployed to help fund our National Health Service as promised we find our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt putting in place plans to drastically reduce both the number of hospitals – down from 9 to 5 in London – and health service funding elsewhere in the UK through the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This is very definitely not what Brexit promised for our health service. Hunt has also further undermined our NHS by stating that we want British only doctors in the near future in spite of the fact that around one-third of doctors currently are from other EU countries.
For disabled people who need personal assistance to live and take part in society Brexit is also bad news. Many people employ care workers/personal assistants from EU countries and now not only does the fall in the value of the pound affect the exchange value of wages paid but on a longer term basis no-one, neither the employers or the employees, have any idea about a future right to work here when the UK leaves the EU. It could of course be years before any more is known.
Workers rights generally are very much an unknown quantity at the moment as well. Teresa May has said the Conservatives want to protect those in place yet many people are on insecure zero hours contracts with no legal protections. The introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal hearings has also negatively affected worker’s rights to challenge unfair dismissals. All of these issues regarding employment rights continue to disproportionately affect disabled workers and the fear that once EU constraints on our employment laws are removed is causing major concerns for those disabled people who are in work.
For disabled people not in work the ending of Workfare and Work Choice schemes funded by the European Social Fund can really only be seen as positive. Neither of these schemes worked well in finding disabled people suitable or sustainable employment opportunities.
Workfare schemes in particular have been likened to unpaid slave labour which they were since claimants were forced to work for no pay under threat of having their benefits removed if they did not. Having said that there were a number of locally EU funded schemes to help disabled and other people into work which have worked well and for which there will now be no further EU funding available.
In other areas of life shared by disabled and non-disabled people the loss of European funding from the Social Fund, from the Common Agricultural Policy and from Regional Development grants will nevertheless be grossly detrimental to the overall standards of living and is likely to have a further negative trickle down impact on food prices. The idea that these funding streams will be replaced by our own government’s spending is laughable given their ongoing austerity agenda and determination to replace Trident nuclear weapons.
On 28th October, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) were contacted by the office of Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and invited to provide a key speaker for the launch of the Labour Party Disability Equality Roadshow on November 11th 2016.
The Labour Party said they wanted
“to ensure that we listen directly to the views of disabled people on a wide range of issues as we begin to develop Labour’s policies for the next election. We hoped to have brief introductory speeches from Jeremy Corbyn, Debbie and yourself, before breaking out into smaller groups to discuss policy themes, drawn from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
The invitation cited GMCDPs “promotion of a rights-based approach to disability, extensive experience of campaigning to assert the rights of disabled people” and we, of course, were pleased to accept.
Two of the major issues that have been important to disabled people, we said, are Independent Living and Assisted Suicide, and we would like to talk about them. This seemed to worry our contact, who said that Labour had not got a formal policy position on the future funding of the ILF and he was concerned that this might be a difficult issue for Jeremy Corbyn and Debbie Abrahams to respond to if this was brought up. We explained that this was broader than the ILF and we wouldn’t be looking to put anyone on the spot, or expecting any commitment from Labour about this on the day.
Despite such reassurances from ourselves the Office of Debbie Abrahams has now withdrawn its invitation to GMCDP to provide a speaker. Although we will still attend, we are immensely disappointed.We have been a part of – and are linked into – disabled people’s organisations and networks and have offered to speak on two of the most serious matters facing disabled people today. We are astounded that the Labour Party does not want to hear us. Because of this we have decided to make our views available widely and are posting this message on our website. Please circulate it as widely as possible, so that the Labour Party knows just how important these matters are.
Please see below the speech we intended to deliver. Please circulate it as widely as possible, so that the Labour Party knows just how important these matters are.
Firstly I would like to thank Jeremy, Debbie and the Labour Party for inviting GMCDP to speak today at the launch of your Disability Equality Roadshow. Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People have no political affiliations, we have worked with past governments, Labour and Tory alike. We have also protested against both parties.
However, we are now living through an unprecedented period of sustained attacks on disabled people; the services we receive, the support we require and our very right to exist. You will no doubt have read the UN report published on Monday that state austerity policies ‘amount to violations of disabled people’s rights’. I mention this just so you don’t think that disabled people are making all this up.
We face inequality it all aspects of our lives, whether it be transport, housing, education or employment. Employment is a prime example of where we face inequalities at every level, from recruitment, retention, promotion and dismissal. To compound these difficulties the employment support programme Access To Work is being cut. Yes that’s right its being cut! At a time when we should be investing in support, the government is making cuts to this programme. This is impacting particularly upon Deaf People who require British Sign Language interpreters within the work place. If we want to see Deaf lawyers, Deaf teachers and Deaf members of parliament, cutting support is not the way to go about it!
However, for GMCDP and for disabled people’s organisations in the UK, there are two issues that are of greatest concern, two issues that we want to reach out to Labour on.
2 Independent Living
Firstly, the principals of Independent Living for disabled people are being dismantled. The Independent Living Fund has gone. It was established to support disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently within the community rather than locked away in residential care, and the government scrapped it! Jeremy knows this because unlike the majority of politicians who shrugged their shoulders and walked away, Jeremy stood with us outside the Court of Appeals in the cold and stood up for us in parliament and campaigned for the retention of the ILF.
So what has the closure of the ILF meant for disabled people? It’s meant that some disabled people are having their care support cut in half, some disabled people told to wear incontinence pads at night, despite the fact they are not incontinent. Southampton CCG are saying that anyone needing more than 8 hours care support a day now face the threat of going into residential care. Here in Greater Manchester, Rochdale council is planning cuts to its Learning Disability Services by moving some people who have existing tenancies into residential care.
What we need is a national, needs-led system, independent of local authorities to administer independent living support, free at point of delivery and paid for through taxation. This system should build on the learning from the Independent Living Fund and be a key strategic mechanism for ensuring Disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD are fully and consistently realised across the country.
3 Assisted Suicide
The other big issue, the scariest issue, the most misunderstood and misreported issue is disabled people’s opposition to the legalisation of Assisted Suicide.
At times it feels to us that we are fighting a pincer movement.
On the one side we have austerity and the narrative that has been spun by successive governments that disabled people have had it too easy for too long, that we are bleeding the county dry and that we are unsustainable and an unacceptable expense (I thought that was the banks, but apparently not). There was the punitive introduction of Workfare, the bedroom tax, cuts to Disabled Students Allowance, cuts disguised as reforms to ESA, DLA which are relentless and ongoing.
On the other side we have repeated attempts to introduce Assisted Suicide legislation. Let us be clear that GMCDP, DPAC, Inclusion London and all the other major UK disabled people’s organisations or disability charities strongly oppose any attempt to introduce any Assisted Suicide legislation. At a time when we are facing massive cuts to services and benefits, we need support to live, not assistance to die. It is not only disabled people who oppose Assisted Suicide. The British Medical Association and Royal Colleges of Physicians, GPs and Surgeons and The Association for Palliative Medicine are all opposed to changing the law in relation to Assisted Suicide.
Despite this, supporters of Assisted Suicide claim that disabled people’s opposition to Assisted Suicide isn’t relevant as any such legislation would only apply to people who are terminally ill with less than six months to live and that safeguards would be put in place to protect the vulnerable (I think that means people like me). Well our concerns are relevant because we have the evidence from countries like Belgium, Holland and parts of the USA where Assisted Suicide is already lawful. In almost all cases there has been some kind of ‘mission creep’ on the criteria of who is eligible. It’s follows a similar pattern. At first it is limited to those with ‘less than six months to live’, then is extend to those in ‘chronic pain’ and eventually encompasses those found to be experiencing ‘unbearable suffering’. All such criteria is subjective and ultimately divides society into those deemed worthy to live and those deemed not worthy of life. So we vehemently oppose legislation that would give the state the power to end our lives through fear and coercion and then sold to us as ‘choice’.
Imagine the power we could harness if all those, either for or against Assisted Suicide could instead turn their energies to fighting for better palliative care for all. Fight for a better funded NHS and a social care system that enables people to maintain their choice, control and dignity. Not being able to wipe your own bum, or hold a spoon or dress yourself are not reasons to kill people or lock them away in residential care or withdraw their support so they become prisoners in their own homes.
So we are asking the Labour leadership to talk to disabled people’s organisations about Independent Living and about our opposition to Assisted Suicide. Today is a great start but if you want your policies to be the policies that disabled people support, that disabled people endorse and ultimately vote for, then there must be an ongoing dialogue. So here’s our contact details not just GMCDP but our sister organisations, Not Dead Yet UK, the Alliance for Inclusive Education and the other organisations I have already mentioned. Work with us. You provide the tea and coffee and we’ll bring the biscuits.
Please submit evidence to this enquiry by October 21st if you use care and support or Personal Assistants or are a parent of someone who uses these services. It is important that individuals let the rapporteur know what has happened since the closure of the ILF both to new applicants in 2010 and to all in 2015 and due to the cuts to Local Authority funding.
Questionnaire on the “provision of support to persons with disabilities” – Call for submissions
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, is currently preparing a study, to be presented at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2017, on the provision of support to persons with disabilities.
The Special Rapporteur welcomes inputs, in accessible formats (Word), in English, French, Russian or Spanish, from Member States, international and regional organizations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, organizations of and for persons with disabilities, civil society, national human rights institutions and other national independent mechanisms designated or established to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability or equality Ombudspersons, scholars, research institutions and policy think tanks, private sector businesses and networks, community movements, and private individuals, to provide information on the provision of support to persons with disabilities.
Submissions should be sent by e-mail to the address email@example.com no later than 21 October 2016. Concise responses are encouraged, inclusive of relevant attachments where available.
Kindly indicate if you have any objections with regard to your reply being posted on this website.
Questionnaire on the provision of support to persons with disabilities
- Please provide information on the following services that are available for persons with disabilities in your country, including data on their coverage, geographic distribution and delivery arrangements, funding and sustainability, challenges and shortcoming in their implementation:
- Personal assistance;
- In-home, residential and community support;
- Support in decision-making, including peer support; and
- Communication support, including support for augmentative and alternative communication.
- Please explain how persons with disabilities can access information about the existing services referred to in question one, including referral procedures, eligibility criteria and application requirements.
- Please elaborate on how these services respond to the specific needs of persons with disabilities throughout their life cycle (infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and older age) and how is service delivery ensured in the transition periods between life cycle stages.
- Please provide information on the number of certified sign language interpreters and deafblind interpreters available in your country.
- Please provide information on the existence of any partnership between State institutions and private service providers (e.g., non-governmental organizations, for-profit service providers) for the provision of support to persons with disabilities.
- Please describe to what extent and how are persons with disabilities and their representative organizations involved in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of support services.
- Please provide any other relevant information and statistics (including surveys, censuses, administrative data, reports, and studies) related to the provision of support to persons with disabilities in your country.
DPAC/Public Interest Research Unit study on work-place discrimination: request for information on your experiences.
Do you think that you might have experienced disability discrimination at work?
Did the new £1,250 fee (introduced in July 2013), to take your case to an employment tribunal, put you off making a discrimination claim against the employer?
Any information you provide will be anonymised, so as to hide your identity.
Since the publication of the Sayce Report (2011), employment support for Deaf and Disabled people and in particular, Access to Work, has been under attack. The last coalition government and the current Tory government, seem determined to change Access to Work from being one of this countries “best kept secret”, to a scheme that no longer meets need, is discriminatory to those with high support needs and causes misery to Deaf and disabled people’s lives. Our lives. Rather than support us into work, the scheme has become a barrier and has resulted in both job losses and demotion.
Iain Duncan Smith recently announced that he wants to “get disabled people back into work”, yet the support that we need is being cut.
Just last week yet another person was forced out of work by the changes to the Access to Work programme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxtYrCB7OJc
We’ve had enough!
Join us on Saturday the 26th September and march for Access to Work. We will be meeting at Old Palace Yard at 12pm and marching to Number 10 Downing Street, where we will deliver our petition. Please help us by signing and sharing this as widely as possible.
For more information about the march see: http://stopchanges2atw.com/march-with-us/
Liz Carr speaking at the anti austerity march 20th June
John Kelly singing Which Side are you On at the anti-austerity march June 20th
In an article published on 5th June 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 we believe 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 (http://www.nubsli.com/our-work/scrap-the-framework.php) was recently established to oppose the governments 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 qualified interpreters and translators.
The article in the 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 go to: https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com), and the Crown Commercial Services are 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 government rely on BSL interpreters to fulfil their basic statutory duties to Deaf BSL users.
When you complain to PHSO, they tell AtW what you are complaining about and ask for information about your case.
Some Deaf people have said that after the PHSO contacted AtW, AtW contacted them offering to resolve their complaint by paying money that is owed and saying sorry.
If this happens to you, and you accept AtW’s offer to resolve your complaint, AtW may tell the PHSO that they should stop their investigation.
AtW may want to stop the PHSO investigating your complaint, because the PHSO will make public thethings that AtW have done wrong, and will tell them what they need to do to put it right.
If the PHSO don’t finish investigating your complaint, AtW might not make changes to stop these problems happening to you, or other people, again.
Of course, it is up to you what you want to do if AtW contact you, but DeafATW’s suggestion is:
1) If AtW contact you offering to investigate and resolve your complaint, reply to AtW saying that you want PHSO to finish their investigation.
2) If AtW offer to pay back money they owe you, then you can say “yes please, pay back money that is owed”, but that you consider the complaint unresolved until the PHSO have finished their investigation.
3) Send AtW’s email and your reply to the PHSO.
If you have any questions, contact DeafATW.com
Sign in support of the campaign now!
Email Henrietta.firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your organisation or as an individual.
Ultimate aim of the campaign
Motability agrees to reverse the changes to eligibility criteria for Motability’s Special Vehicles Fund for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs.
· Motability agrees to conduct a formal public consultation on the changes, including a face to face meeting with current grant users. Until this consultation is concluded and a consultation response report publicly published the changes should be immediately reversed.
· Motability agrees to publishes their equality impact assessment of the changes
· Motability agrees to publish clear and full information about the changes on their website.
Why the need for the campaign?
Motability has changed the eligibility criteria for their Special Vehicles Fund (SVF) for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. We believe these changes could destroy the ability to live independently and be included in the community of those affected.
What are the changes?
From June 2014 ‘a usage test’ was introduced by Motability regarding DFW/IT vehicles. This test applies to those applying to the SVF first time and current users when renewing their contract (see statement provided by Motability attached). Below is information on how the changes are being implemented in practice.
Current users are telephoned some months in advance of the renewal date of their contract and asked if the vehicle is to support ‘substantive employment, education, volunteer working or to enable the disabled driver to provide vital and sole care to another, for example, a school-age child or children or a disabled loved one who resides with the disabled person.’ About 12 hours a week seems to be considered ‘substantive’. It appears that those that do not fulfil this criterion are no longer eligible for a vehicle.
We are very concerned that disabled people who rely on access to such vehicles will no longer be eligible for grants from the scheme and therefore unable to replace vehicles, which are essential to their independence. These vehicles are often used by disabled people with the highest support needs, who for a range of reasons relating to their impairments, are unable to access public transport because it unavailable or not possible because of pain levels or the need to carry equipment such as hoists or oxygen or a particularly large vehicle as illustrated in the case study below:
Because of the specialised seating on my wheelchair, it is too large to travel on bus. Only 3 weeks ago I couldn’t go to hospital Emergency A&E because the ambulances can’t take me! I was severely dehydrated, they ended up sending a doctor to my home and doing 48-hour IV just because I couldn’t go to hospital.
There is NO way I am every going to be employed which is depressing enough, I can’t get voluntary work because I can’t even go and see anyone to consider it (no transport!). I really am so depressed over these changes.
These new changes mean I am confined to the distance of my own wheelchair with no access to public transport, and no access to Motability.
The independence given to disabled people to drive their own vehicle often means they can become involved in their community and do voluntary activities. Without a DFW/IT vehicle many disabled people will be excluded from visits to families and friends and will be unable to take part in any aspects of social, religious, community, wellbeing activities and political life. In addition these changes will prevent disabled people getting into education, obtaining employment or volunteering unless already involved in these activities and therefore will never fulfil the new criteria for a DFW/IT vehicle.
Motability did not conduct a consultation before implementing these changes and as far as we are aware they did not carry out an Equality Impact Assessment regarding the impact of the change, also there was no public announcement or any information published concerning the changes. Disabled people only become aware when asked the questions on the telephone. There is still only limited information given by Motability at: http://www.motability.co.uk/understanding-the-scheme/financial-help/eligibility-for-financial-help
Motability administers government funds, yet they seem to be ignoring the Equality act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, which states the duty to facilitate:
· ‘the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice’
· access to ‘quality mobility aids’
· disabled people’s right to ‘full inclusion and participation in the community’.
Disabled people’s organisations are acting together with other voluntary sector organisations to ask Motability to reverses the changes to the eligibility criteria for the SVF for DFW/IT vehicles.
What can you do?
· Sign in support of the campaign by emailing Henrietta.email@example.com
· Sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/stop-unfair-and-secret-changes-to-motability-grants#petition-letter 2,500 people signed in the first 3 weeks!
· Promote petition, email, Facebook, Twitter etc.
· Send letter of protest and case examples to Motability.
· Survey members on their experiences of Motability reviews
· Contact your local MP, and relevant Ministers
Join the coalition of disabled people’s organisations and voluntary sector organisations supporting the aims of the campaign above, to do this please email Henrietta.firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your organisation.
Please forward this email to your contacts.
Mobile: 07703 715091
Direct line (Wednesday’s only) 020 7036 6033
Office Tel: 020 7237 3181, SMS: 0771 839 4687
Dear Francis Maude MP,
The new national framework for interpreting and translation will affect interpreters (spoken language, Deafblind and British Sign Language), translators (foreign language, British Sign Language, Deaf translators) speech-to-text reporters, lip speakers, and note takers.
In the interpreting community we have already experienced privatisation in the courts with the Ministry of Justice framework being run by Capita. Despite this being a failure and criticised heavily in an independent review, Crown Commercial Services look set on widening privatisation of interpreting to cover every publicly funded service in the UK. The intended outcomes of the framework agreement – both to save money and ensure quality provision – cannot possibly be achieved.
Following on from the disastrous consequences of changes made to Access to Work, the employment support programme for Deaf and disabled people, as well as issues of unqualified people being used as interpreters, the BSL interpreting profession is in a state of decline. Almost half of all NRCPD registered interpreters responded to a survey by he National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) recently. The results showed that 48% of respondents are thinking about leaving the profession. A considerably depleted workforce would, as in any market, drive fees upwards.
To de-professionalise the industry would have detrimental effect on the Deaf community and set access levels back to those last seen twenty plus years ago. The consequences of a framework which covers areas such as health, mental health, social services including child protection and other safeguarding areas could be catastrophic. Without qualified interpreters, clinicians and other professionals cannot complete their work safely. The risks to the Deaf community are unimaginable. We could, without exaggeration, be talking about loss of life and liberty.
We therefore request that this work ceases and alternative solutions a sought with the full consultation of the experts in this sector: the Deaf community and BSL interpreters.
Len McCluskey – General Secretary, Unite the Union
Teresa Pearce MP
Jennifer Smith – Chair, National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI)
Linda Burnip – Co-Founder, Disabled People Against Cuts
Dr Terry Riley OBE – Chair, British Deaf Association (BDA)
Jenny Sealey MBE – CEO/Artistic Director Graeae Theatre Company
Nicky Evans – Stop Changes To Access To Work Campaign
Geraldine O’Halloran – Inclusion London
John McDonnell MP
Ronnie Draper – General Secretary, Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers Union
Grahame Morris MP
Michael Meacher MP
Sir Gerald Kaufman MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Richard Wilson OBE – Graeae Patron
Dame Harriet Walter DBE – Actor/Graeae Patron
Ian Hodson – National President, Bakers’, Food and Allied Workers Union
Jane Aitchison – Joint National Secretary, Unite the Resistance
Mandy Brown – UCU NEC, Branch Secretary Lambeth College
Helen Davies – Branch Chair Barnet UNISON and Social Worker
Sean Vernell – UCU
Roger Lewis – Lambeth Unison Equalities Officer (PC)
Tim O’Dell – UNISON
Mark Dunk – Unite the Resistance
Lesley Weatherson – Association of Lipspeakers
Vikki Bridson-Vice – Steering Committee, Visual Language Professionals
Alison Bryan – Chair, Deaf Access Cymru
Georgina Sullivan – Association of Notetaking Professionals
Julia Jacobie – AVSTTR
Eileen R. Ford and Amelia Naranjo – National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators (NUPIT)
Debbie Jolly – Co-Founder, Disabled People Against Cuts
Paula Peters – Chair, Bromley Disabled People against Cuts
Ellen Clifford – Lewisham Disabled People Against Cuts
Bob Ellard – National Steering Committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Roger Lewis, National Steering Committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Anita Bellows – National Steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Peter Llewellyn-Jones Programme Director, postgraduate programmes in Interpreting and Translation Studies
Wes Mehaffy BSL/English Interpreter
Martin Fox-Roberts BSL/English Interpreter
Jennifer Smith BSL/English Interpreter
Mariella Reina BSL/English Interpreter
Clare Vinton BSL/English Interpreter
Roma Parrick BSL/English Interpreter
Maria Munro BSL/English Interpreter
Adele Ward BSL/English Interpreter
Bridget Bree BSL/English Interpreter
Rachel O’Neill Lecturer
Gloria Ogborn BSL/English Interpreter
Donna West Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Ali Hetherington BSL/English Interpreter
Paula Fye BSL and Deafblind Manual Interpreter
Mike North Deafblind Manual Interpreter
Cathy Davey Clinical Supervisor MBACP SEN Accredited
Alison Gilchrist BSL/English Interpreter
Jennifer Dodds BSL/English Interpreter (Deaf)
Gráinne Sheehan BSL/English Interpreter and Deafblind Manual Interpreter
James Banks BSL/English Interpreter
Van Holtom BSL/English Interpreter
Simon Bristoll BSL/English Interpreter
Louise Bodycombe BSL/English Interpreter
Ivan Osborne BSL/English Interpreter
Veronica Nanson BSL/English Interpreter
Claire Dodds BSL/English interpreter
Elizabeth Mercer BSL/English Interpreter
Diana Coada Court interpreter (DPSI)
Louise Gough Translator (MITI)
Dr Zuzana Windle Legal interpreter
Hannah Watson BSL/English Interpreter
Dr Dimitra Kalantzi Translator (AITI)
Philippe Muriel (MCIL) French Interpreter (DPSI) & Translator (Dip Trans) – Interpreter Trainer
Sarah Powell Clinical Psychologist
Elvire Roberts BSL/English Interpreter
Sue Leschen Legal and commercial French Interpreter
Ségolène Neilson Legal (DPSI), medical and business interpreter and translator
Rami Kohli Legal (DPSI) Interpreter
Parvin Lackschewitz-Martin Legal interpreter NRPSI (BA Honours in languages)
Mihaela Patrascu Legal interpreter DPSI DPI RPSI MCIL
Emma Lipton Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Laura Orsini Interpreter (NRPSI) and translator
Irina Norton Conference and Public Service Interpreter/translator
Sarah Martin Trainee interpreter
Yasemin Kafali Legal interpreter (NRPSI)
Mark West BSL/English Interpreter
Rebecca Hinks BSL/English interpreter
Forrai Éva Legal Interpreter, Hungarian, NRPSI, Met Police
Dione Deans BSL/English Interpreter
Sami Thorpe Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Manzoor Ahmed Khan Legal interpreter
Rita Layden BSL/English Interpreter
Daniel Alun Roberts BSL/English Interpreter
Celia Hulme Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate
Hazel Flynn Clinical Management Lead – Snr Accred BACP
Bibi Lacey-Davidson BSL/English Interpreter
Tom Mould BSL/English Interpreter
Kate Outhwaite BSL/English Interpreter
Bryony Coombe Medical Underwriter
Cathryn McShane BSL/English Interpreter
Tawatchai Brome Brito Interpreter Coordinator
David Phippard BSL/English Interpreter
Colette Phippard BSL/English Interpreter
Craig Brown BSL/Auslan/English Interpreter
Heidi K. Robertson Creative Freelancer
Anne-Françoise Boreland French Interpreter (DPSI) and Translator
Ann Devaney BSL/English Interpreter
Emma De Casse Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Jackie Dennis BSL/English Interpreter
Anthony Evans BSL/English Interpreter
Caroline Ridley Community Occupational Therapist working in Deafness/Mental Health
Mimi McQuaid Legal Interpreter (NRPSI)
Philip Wyatt Psychologist Therapist
Karen Parker Teacher/Trainer Freelancer
Liz Wyatt BSL/English Interpreter
Freya Hill Communications Assistant
Yvonne MacAnara BSL/English Interpreter
Jenny Guppy Teacher of the Deaf
Julia Lord CPsychol Chartered Counselling Psychologist
Julie Whitaker Speech-to-Text Reporter
Rob Troy BSL/English Interpreter
Sahara DeVille Counsellor
Mary Altabev Interpreter/Translator NRPSI
Stephen Menton BSL/English Interpreter
Beverley Haslam BSL/English Interpreter
Stephen Hudson BSL/English Interpreter
Josie Fray Trainee BSL / English Interpreter, Social Worker
Caroline Corrigan BSL/English Interpreter
Parminder Kaur Legal interpreter NRPSI
Agata McCrindle Legal Interpreter NRPSI MITI MCIL APCI
John Donald Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
Amanda Bavin STT Reporter
Cristina Santos RPSI 13999
Norah Griffiths Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Eszter Fejes RPSI 15008
Mary Brumby BSL/English Interpreter
Rachael Veazey BSL/English Interpreter
Valerie Hall Registered BSL/English Interpreter
Karla Hannigan BSL/English Interpreter
Vikki Bridson-Vice BSL/English Interpreter
Carol Spencer BSL/English Interpreter
Emma Phillips BSL/English Interpreter
Nicola Williams BSL/English Interpreter
Norman Thompson Retired
Laura Davies BSL/English Interpreter
Lynn Shannon Service Manager
Dr Nadia Hussein Arabic Language Legal Interpreter
Annie Brotherton BSL/English Interpreter
Thomas Giddens Freelancer
Kate Adams Trainee Sign Language Interpreter
Diana Hubbard Legal Interpreter (NRPSI)
Omoyele Thomas Registered BSL/English Interpreter
Paul Bargery BSL/English Interpreter
Vicky Pannell BSL/English Interpreter
Louise Tingay BSL/English Interpreter
Catherine Hare-Cockburn Deaf employee
Ian Cockburn Deaf BSL user
Tracey Hurrell BSL/English Interpreter
Jude Mahon BSL/English interpreter
Lucy Slater BSL/English Interpreter
Jayne Cooke BSL/English Interpreter
Jason Bell BSL/English Interpreter
Isobel Higgins BSL/English Interpreter
Tracey M Robinson Registered Manager
Philip Cowood Legal interpreter
Elizabeth Smith BSL/English Interpreter
Alison Green BSL/English Interpreter
Anne Richardson BSL/ English Interpreter
Rosanna Harrison BSL/English Interpreter
Tina Holmes BSL/English Interpreter
Rose Nest BSL/English interpreter
Heidi Watson BSL/English Interpreter
Jo Haywood Communications Manager
Tracey Strathdee BSL/English Interpreter
Edward Richards Deaf person and Managing Director CED
Natalya Dell Deaf person and Disabled Students’ Adviser
Andrea Spoczynski BSL/English Interpreter
Debra Robins BSL/English Interpreter
Susan Prosser Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Averil Dobson BSL/English Interpreter
Jean Smith Deaf BSL User
Robert Smith Deaf BSL User
Beatrice Goutfer, MA Legal translator and interpreter
Eva Gil English Translator
Judith Hillary Trainee Sign Language Interpreter
Holly Davies Freelance Translator and Interpreter (ES-EN)
Kate Boddy BSL / English Interpreter
Linda Day BSL/ASL Interpreter
Kerry Lover BSL/English Interpreter
Yve Coffey BSL/English Interpreter
Clare Nelder Deaf Teacher of the Deaf
Klasiena Slaney Legal Interpreter (NRPSI)
Tracey Cade BSL/English Interpreter
Rebekah Reynolds HR & Payroll Coordinator
Michelle Barnes BSL/English Interpreter
Melanie Pendrick-Wright BSL/English Interpreter
Zakir Hossain Bengali & Sylheti interpreter
Ahmad Abed Interpreter
Nicole Gelister French Legal Interpreter NR 11393
Alena Linhartova Czech/Slovak/English Interpreter
Daniel Pageon Fellow of the ITI and CIoL
Callie Tremlett BSL Interpreter
Jasmine Killen Interpreter
Cath Whitehead Director Co.Sign Partners in Communication Ltd
Lucy Cotton BSL/English interpreter
Carol Kyle BSL/English Interpreter
Aisha Maniar Freelance Translator
Kay McCrea BSL/English Interpreter
Aurora Matilde Humarán / Legal Translator
Jurate Clarke Lithuanian/English interpreter
Vera Tymchyshyn Teacher/Interpreter
Ray Williams BSL/English Interpreter
Jana Kohl German Legal Translator and Interpreter
Linda Staines BSL/English Interpreter
Philippa Merricks Deafway Animateur
Emma McGowan Deaf person
Peter Mackriell Counsellor working with Deaf people
Linda Duncan BSL/English Interpreter
Shwan Hawrami NRPSI
Kathryn Sykes Speech to Text Reporter
Paula Cox BSL/English Interpreter
Samantha Kenward Communications Researcher
Ligia Xavier Legal Interpreter
Liz Macartney BSL/English Interpreter
Jana Sefcikova Czech & Slovak Interpreter
Chris Bojas Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
Peter Horvath Slovak Czech to English Interpreter
Oliver Westbury Deaf, Web Developer
Hamid Alemi English Interpreter
Quoc Lu Deaf worker
Hamid Alemi English Interpreter
Andrew Jordan BSL User
Siobhan Hutton BSL/English Interpreter
MartIn Glover Architect
Andrew Hesselwood BSL/English Interpreter
Jean Pateras Spanish interpreter
Lisa Godden BSL/English Interpreter
Nikki Champagnie-Harris BSL/English Interpreter
Sarah Lucas BSL/English Interpreter
Jody Weaver BSL interpreter
Elizabeth Thomas BSL/English Interpreter
Colin Ayres BSL and Deaf Awareness Tutor
Michael Wells French/English Interpreter
Mohammed Akbar Khan Interpreter
Michaela Gomolova Czech Interpreter
Claude Salam French legal interpreter translator
Wendy Callaghan Counsellor
Monia D’Agostino Trainee Sign Language Interpreter
Ben LeGrys Registered BSL/English Interpreter
Tessa Longbottom Communication Support Worker
Stuart Wilson BSL/Highways Engineer
Debbie John BSL/English Interpreter
Mark Hetherington BSL/English Interpreter
Doris Moreton BSL/Interpreter
Jenny Moreton Grandparents Deaf
Rianne Eimers Manager Healthwatch Kingston upon Thames
Robert Foulkes BSL/English
George McGowan BSL Tutor
Julie Lenton BSL/English Interpreter
Christine Rowlands Spanish interpreter
Brett Best BSL/English Interpreter
Yvonne Carolan Psychological Therapist
- Karamyar Public service interpreter
Marie Dimond BSL/English Interpreter
William Towning Communications Manager, Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People
Ian Macdonald Legal interpreter MA FCIL NRPSI
Katalin Galuska Hungarian interpreter
Samantha Riddle BSL/English Interpreter
Vicki Wan Slattery BSL/English Interpreter
Sophie Bailey French interpreter
Michael Rudd BSL/English Interpreter
Maureen Hetherington Human Rights
Emma Llewellyn BSL/ English Interpreter
Jo Cumberlidge BSL/English interpreter
Debbie Snodgrass BSL/English Interpreter
Elizabeth Oliver BSL/English Interpreter
Pamela Byles BSL/English Interpreter
Tina Little BSL/English Interpreter
Sue Goman BSL/English Interpreter
Angela Walker BSL/English Interpreter
C M Roughley BSL/English Interpreter
Edith Garraway Interpreter
Leah Jewiss BSL/English Interpreter
Linda Slater BSL/English Interpreter
Jane Allighan BSL/English Interpreter
Lorraine Elliott BSL/English Interpreter and A1 assessor
Joseph Taylor BSL/English Interpreter
Kevin Smith BSL Interpreter
Karl Appleton College Lecturer
Judith Renshaw BSL/English Interpreter
Abigail Phillis Teacher
Elaine Wooding Deaf employee
Scott Wooding Deaf employee
Thomas Wooding Deaf employee
Paul Wooding Deaf person
Zoe Bevans BSL/English Interpreter
Clare Cotton BSL/English Interpreter
Nadine Taylor BSL/English Interpreter
Selina Rehman Deaf BSL User
Louise McDermott SignHealth Coordinator
Lizzie Wharton BSL Interpreter Lipspeaker
Jane Allighan BSL/English Interpreter
Anne Rudkin BSL/English Interpreter
Linzi Weatherson Lipspeaker
Rachel Tipping BSL/English Interpreter
Paul Doddridge Principal
Diana A Barimore Lipspeaker
Alexandra Calce BSL/ English interpreter
Paul Arnold Registered BSL interpreter
Timothy Hanley Deaf Graphic Designer
Elizabeth Oliver BSL/English Interpreter
Caroline Ryan BSL/English Interpreter
Emma Ferguson-Coleman Alzheimer’s Society Doctoral Research Fellow
Paul Ntulila Administrator and Trainee Trainer
Lina Kankeviciute Interpreter Services Coordinator
Bogumila Kolbus LLB RPSI Polish Interpreter
Victoria Kolbus Polish interpreter
Clare Cotton BSL/English Interpreter
Julie Hornsby BSL interpreter
Karen Houlihan BSL/English Interpreter
Neziha Kaya NRPSI
Theresa McWhirter BSL/English Interpreter
Karen Whitehouse BSL/English interpreter
Daryl Jackson Relay Interpreter/Translator
Melanie Barr Support worker for the Deafblind
Paul O’Donoghue Deaf Person
Margaret Gray BSL / English interpreter
Lauren Harris BSL student (Level 6)
Debora Chobanian Portuguese Interpreter
Kate Collier BSL/English Interpreter
Louise Polo BSL Student
Elzbieta Okurowska RPSI Polish Interpreter
Helen Coleman University Lecturer
Rob Bethel Reception Extraordinaire
Robert Arthur NHS
John Clawson NHS
Andrei Yellisiev Healthcare
Sarah Keeley Nurse
J Barnes-Jones BSL Teacher
Carol Dalchow BSL/English Interpreter
Jo Cumberlidge BSL/English interpreter
Paula Peters Disabled People Against Cuts
Judith Thompson BSL/English Interpreter
Tracey Tyer BSL/English Interpreter
Daryl McMullan Trainee BSL/English interpreter
Sophie Bailey Legal interpreter
Philip Ardagh Children’s author
Richard Burke Civil Engineer
Kristiaan Dekesel Principal Lecturer Interpreting (BSL/English)
Yvonne Barrett Art Therapist
Wayne Goertzen Level 6 BSL CSW
Alan.L.Hale BSL Teacher
Michelle Teasdale BSL Coordinator
Dr Annabella Dyer Clinical Psychologist
Sean McCafferty Business Development Manager
Paul Hollingdrake Trainee Sign Language Interpreter
Kath Keogan BSL/English Interpreter
Linda McCanna Communication support worker
Helen Jackson BSL/English Interpreter
l Westley BSL
Evelyn Davenport BSL/English Interpreter
Mike Reed Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
John McDonnell MP
Joanna Wanmer Community Involvement Officer working with Sensory Impaired People
Samir Dawlatly GP
Hester MacAnara Director of Business Development
Jason Vessey Deaf BSL User
Milly Kan Tax Consultant
Erica Tyler-Chamberlain Teacher
Karyn Yeomans Asda Manager
Grahame Morris MP
Jayne Skidmore Teacher
Antonia Ryan Trade Unionist
Elizabeth Hansford BSL/English Interpreter
Dr David Morrison Editor
W Leung Msc Occupational Health and Safety
Rachael Hayes Deaf Service Consultant
Jane Rycroft BSL Interpreter
Alan Davison BSL Lecturer
Helen Dunipace BA PG Dip
David Clifford BSL/English Interpreter
Tracey Pycroft BSL/English Interpreter
Amanda Kirk Communication Support Worker
Sue Herring BSL/English Interpreter
Rosemary Pell BSL/English Interpreter
Lisa Brailsford BSL/ENGLISH interpreter
Linda Doddridge Retired Deaf training manager
Karen Williams Company Director
Anna Baker BSL/English Interpreter
John Dunipace BSL/English Interpreter
Alice Elliott Eye Clinic Liaison Officer
Maureen Saville Registered Qualified BSL/English Interpreter
Rekha NARULA Interpreter & Translator
Adrian Jegeni NRPSI Albanian Interpreter
Aqil Minhas APCI/Urdu Interpreter
V.G. Hine Russian interpreter
Renata Littlehales Pol-Eng Interpreter
Gunita King Latvian interpreter
John Newton Czech-English interpreter
Patrick Schunemann NRPSI Interpreter
Michael Holland Primary school teacher
Yvonne Freiherr-Fenton BSL/English Interpreter
Richard McEwan UCU FE Vice Chair/ Teacher
Stanley Beecham Legal Interpreter
Nicola Rothwell Trainee Interpreter
M Miah Lecturer
Angela Heffernan ESOL teacher
Tony Barlow BSL/English Employment Advisor
Billie Loebner Teacher/UCU member
Kamal Omer Arabic/English Interpreter/Translator
Joy Tucker BSL communication support
Ian Crosson Lecturer
Susan Bloomfield Deaf BSL user
Ruth Peaker BSL/English Interpreter
Mike Christie Director
Katrina Mayfield Interpreter
Maria Parker BSL/English Interpreter
Iain Case BSL/English Interpreter
Louise Culver BSL/English Interpreter
Rachel Evans Student Interpreter
Jaishree Gohil RPSI/Gujarati Interpreter
María López García Certified Translator, AITI
Mary Bennion Electronic notetaker for Deaf/disabled people
Mirela Watson Freelance Conference and PSI Interpreter
Liz Stott Speech and Language Therapist
Moira Hall Administrator
Janice Connolly Deaf health champions volunteer coordinator
Steven Delaney-Cain BSL/English Interpreter
Sarah Hannett BSL user/ advocate
Sam Taxi Driver
Ann McKenna Tutor BSL
Edward Melvin CAD
Lisa Kelly Notetaker
Samantha Allen BSL Project Worker
Liviu Coroianu DPI DPSI Criminal Justice Language Practitioner
Karen Lawson BSL/English Interpreter
Anne Coghlan Support worker with deaf/blind people
Naomi Sanders Community Service team manager from Merseyside Society for Deaf People
Jonathon Jay Financial Paraplanner (son of deaf mother)
Nicola Fitzpatrick Trainee BSL/English interpreter
Michae Sadowski BSL user and BSL tutor
Haydon Littlewood Firefighter
Amy Hyland Engagement worker
Danielle Russell Psychological Therapist
Sophie Gee Nurse
Christopher Russell Support Worker
Peter Martin Project Manager
Amie Johnson Outreach Worker
Kenneth Delaney Shop Manager Retired
Ruth Turner Advocate for Deaf people
Jamie little Support worker
Helen Delaney Mother of deaf daughter
Miss Dawn Dignam Community services team manager for deaf/Deafblind
Joanna Endersby CSW
Joanne Burns BSL/English Interpreter
Margaret Williams Retired
Ann Potterton Management Consultant
Inese Vimere Latvian Interpreter
Patricia Clarke Support worker
Nick Beese Senior User Experience Designer
Lilli Beese Deaf Interpreter and Student Penny Clark
Lyn Ealey Community Support Worker/Deaf Employee
Gertrude Robinson Community Support Worker/Deaf Employee
Chris Curran BSL Interpreter
Sally Clelland BSL
Vikki Heywood CBE
Amelia Naranjo Interpreter/Translator (NRPSI)
Dionne Thomas BSL/English Interpreter
Caroline Barnes BSL/English interpreter
Sally Gillespie BSL/English interpreter
Frances Lewin BSL/English interpreter
Audrey Simmons Sign language interpreter
Meg Minion Trainee BSL/English Interpreter
Gail Carter Advisor
David Bradshaw BSL interpreter
Julie Doyle BSL/English interpreter RSLI
Jenny Pestell Freelance BSL/Eng interpreter
Lynne Bateman Registered Sign Language Interpreter
From the Leigh Day Website
The Access to Work Scheme is delivered by the DWP through Jobcentre Plus and is designed to help people with disabilities to overcome work related obstacles. This includes the provision of grants that fund practical support for people with a disability to start working, to stay in work, to start a business, or to become self-employed.
Within their letter before claim Leigh Day also addressed issues relating to the ‘30 hour rule’, which they described as an example of the ‘apparently inconsistent, unlawful and opaque’ way the AtW scheme has been applied by the DWP.
In June 2011, the guidance of AtW was changed so that those receiving over 30 hours of assistance from a support worker could only claim for this on the basis of an annual salary of up to £30,000, rather than for an hourly rate of an agency worker.
The ’30 hour rule’ was suspended in May 2014 as the AtW underwent review over a three month period.
As there was previously no published guidance any updates made to the 30-hour rule were unknown, leaving the public unaware of the current and future status of the ruling.
Lawyers at Leigh Day requested in their letter that the DWP revisited the AtW grants of all those affected by the ’30 hour rule’ and reinstated the funding that they were entitled to prior to its implementation.
However, the DWP responded by saying that they felt it was not appropriate to review every case which was subject to the 30 hour rule.
Ugo Hayter, a solicitor in the Human Rights department at Leigh Day who is representing the ‘Stop Changes to Access to Work’ group, said: “We welcome the Department of Work and Pension’s decision to publish their current guidance as well as their revised guidance in March 2015.
“Their previous failure to publish this vital information meant that public access to this was denied, which we believe was unlawful.
“We now urge for the issues raised in relation to the ‘30 hour rule’ to be re-considered as many people had their support by the Access to Work scheme arbitrarily cut or suspended through this rule, which put their employment and businesses at risk. We believe that this requires a full investigation and for action to be taken to reverse any outstanding cases where the 30 hour rule is still being applied.”
Ellen Clifford, on behalf of Stop Changes to Access to Work, said: “We are pleased by this victory and welcome the DWP announcing that they will publish guidance. This is a first step in the right direction in solving the numerous issues with the Access to Work scheme.
“However, the weaknesses in DWP’s administration of the programme are still prevalent, this is putting AtW users’ employment and their businesses at serious risk.
“We hope that the DWP will consult and communicate with AtW users; make consistent and lawful decisions and take urgent steps to reinstate the funding to which users were entitled prior to the imposition of the 30-rule.”
#StopChanges2ATW welcome the findings of the Work and Pensions select committee inquiry into Access To Work (ATW) published today.
The 31 recommendations reflect the considerable difficulties Deaf and disabled people have experienced with the scheme since changes were introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions over the past year to what was previously a very effective programme of disability related employment support.
The report says ATW “has the potential to be an extremely effective model, helping to address the substantial gap between the employment rate for disabled people and that of the rest of the population. Where it works well, it transforms the lives of disabled people, many of whom would be unable to work without it.”
Over recent months ATW customers have been driven to crisis through the combination of a disastrous restructure, which they were never consulted over, and the introduction of targets to increase numbers using the scheme without significantly increasing its budget.
As a result an overwhelming number of Deaf and disabled people have been pushed to despair fearing for their futures, with many out of pocket or owing thousands of pounds that they simply don’t have.
#StopChanges2ATW, named this week on Limping Chicken by respected blogger Jen Dodds as campaign of the year, was set up to draw attention to the scale of what was happening. Working with DeafATW and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) we sought justice for Deaf and disabled people adversely impacted and a reversal of all negative changes.
Although the Work and Pensions inquiry into ATW was originally intended to focus on mental health and learning difficulties, we were delighted that the Select Committee listened to our calls to widen its scope and ensure the inquiry process was made accessible for Deaf BSL users.
We now welcome the findings of the inquiry which support the key concerns from our campaign. The report highlights the DWP’s failure to provide “a satisfactory explanation of how the money saved from the closure or sale of Remploy factories has been used”. It finds that as a result of trying to increase the ATW caseload within an only marginally increased budget, that the DWP is “bearing down on the awards of current service users who happen to require relatively high cost support, to the detriment of meeting their needs effectively.” The report also criticises the “remarkably little published information on Access to Work”, commenting that much of the information needed for the inquirt has had to be pieced together from DWP’s answers to Parliamentary Questions and Freedom of Information requests.
The Committee makes a number of specific recommendations to improve the ATW programme. These include that the DWP be clearer about how its makes decisions, makes its processes more accessible introducing a Video Relay System to allow Deaf BSL users to make contact and improves its disability awareness training for staff.
Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Committee, has called for the DWP to urgently address the impact of the “30 hour rule” and to make a strong case to the HM Treasury for substantial additional funding.
The report also acknowledges NUBSLI, which was set up only this year in response to the attacks on BSL interpreters’ pay and condition affected through the changes to Access to Work, recommending “that DWP consult the BSL interpreting professions through the Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters.”
#StopChanges2ATW co-founder Geraldine O’Halloran said “The report is promising and is a good result for our campaign. We are delighted the Committee understood the impact of the 30 hour rule and cuts to resources for Deaf BSL users as well as the need for properly qualified and skilled interpreters. ”
Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, said: “#StopChanges2ATW and all the campaigners working together to oppose the damaging impact of the changes to Access to Work should be congratulated on getting the Work and Pensions Committee to listen to their concerns. The recommendations from the inquiry strongly reflect the measures that Deaf and disabled people have been calling for.”
One disappointment is that the Committee’s recommendation on employment support for people with mental health support needs does not go far enough. The report acknowledges that whereas “People with physical and sensory impairments have an element of choice in how their Access to Work support is provided; there is currently a lack of choice in Access to Work mental health support”. The recommendation is given that “DWP develop a range of mental health provision” but does not explicitly state that customers with mental health support needs should have a parity of choice with other customers, enabling individuals to identify the support we need to achieve our employment outcomes instead of being restricted to choosing from a pre-designated, albeit longer, menu of set support options.
It also remains to be seen how far if at all the Department for Work and Pensions will follow the report’s recommendations. The key recommendation of the Work and Pensions report on Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment, that “a fundamental redesign of the ESA end-to-end process” was needed, was ignored in the government’s response.
Meanwhile we continue to hear on a daily basis of lives being ruined as ATW packages are driven down, support essential for Deaf and disabled people to stay in their jobs is denied and ATW communication failings persist.
Roger Lewis of Disabled People Against Cuts said”The reality is that Deaf and disabled people are being squeezed from above and below. On the one hand they are stripping away the social security system and labelling us as benefit scroungers, on the other they are pushing us out of the labour market and eroding disability employment support. Lord Freud’s comments about whether disabled people are worth £2 an hour aren’t an anomaly, they represent what this government really thinks about us. ”
One thing we do know is that #StopChanges2ATW will carry on campaigning to hold the government to account for its erosion of ATW and to fight not only for a reversal of the damage done over recent months but beyond that for improvements to the scheme that will widen its reach and enable many more Deaf and disabled people to access their right to employment.
Look out for #StopChanges2ATW on news features throughout the day.