“We were looking at how to possibly catch you out or restrict you.” Access to Work adviser talks to BBC News

Posted on October 31, 2014



A BBC News report, aired on Wednesday evening, has shown an anonymous Access to Work adviser talking of a “culture shift” at the scheme in 2011, saying:

We were checking rather than supporting, we weren’t asking how can we help you? We were looking at how to possibly even try to catch you out or restrict you.

The item also says that the number of successful applicants to the scheme has fallen by 25%.

You can see the video below. There are subtitles on the video, but they are difficult to read, so there is also a transcript of this video below thanks to BBC See Hear:

Transcript courtesy of BBC See Hear:

NIKKI FOX

Businesswoman and actress, Julie Fernandez, best known for her role in The Office works six days a week in her craft shop.

She has brittle bone disease and needs help to do the things she can’t physically do.

JULIE

The only way that I can work full time is to have a full-time support worker, so Access to work gives me the work to give me the funds to pay the wages of people to be my support worker.

NIKKI FOX

But there’s now growing concerns that changes to the scheme are putting disabled people’s jobs at risk.

A former access to work advisor agreed to speak to the BBC anonymously to protect his colleagues.

He told me there’d been a cultural shift, which began since 2011.

ACCESS TO WORK EMPLOYEE

We were checking rather than supporting, we weren’t asking how can we help you? We were looking at how to possibly even try to catch you out or restrict you.

NIKKI FOX

The number of new successful applicants has dropped by nearly twenty-five per cent from more than sixteen thousand to twelve thousand six hundred, while the actual spend on Access to work fell from one hundred and five million pounds to ninety-nine million.

However the government says it spent an extra fifteen million pounds in the past financial year.

Mark Harper MP

There have been some problems, its fair to see about how we’ve brought the system to fewer locations but now those problems have been sorted out, the customer service levels are improving again and I’m making sure that we keep delivering good customer service to those people that depend on access to work

Both for those in work and those who need to get into work.

NIKKI FOX

One man who needs support is Steve, profoundly deaf he requires an interpreter so that he can work full time at his local authority but Access to work will only pay for someone who works for four days out of five.

STEVE:

It does mean that people forget I’m there and I just spend most of the day focusing on paperwork and not talking to anybody and it can be quite lonely.

NIKKI FOX

Julie’s funding is secure for another three years allowing her to expand her business but many more are waiting to hear whether their support can continue – allowing them to keep working.

Nicki Fox, BBC news

 

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Posted in: deaf news