Changes to Access to Work Support

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2010 National Disabled Members' Conference
14 October 2010

This conference is concerned about severe restrictions which have been placed on the support offered to disabled employees by Access to Work in recent changes starting October 1st. The great majority of funding for physical adjustments such as equipment, telephony, adaptations to buildings and similar will no longer be provided. The cost will now be the sole responsibility of employers. These changes mean Access to Work will only cover Support Workers, transport costs and ‘highly specialised equipment.’ We have been told they will not pay for special chairs, desks and IT equipment. Even voice activated software is not classed as ‘highly specialist’ equipment. This comes at a time when:

·disabled people are especially adversely affected by the cuts to the public sector both as service users and employees

·the Coalition government is preparing to cut state benefits including disability benefits

·a new wave of work capability assessments is planned to actively remove more people from disability related benefits

There has been no public announcement about these changes. Individual disabled people will only find out when they apply to Access to Work for funding. Officers working for Access to Work have been told they are not to talk about this to the wider public or provide briefings to disabled people’s groups or employers.

We believe that more money should be invested in areas which support disabled people to leave benefit and move into employment. Many disabled people want to find work and removing the support will make it increasingly difficult.

The reasons for these changes are cuts to the public sector budgets but this could actually lead to an increase in costs. If someone can’t get computer software to help them with there job will they have to apply for a support worker. Surely this would cost more.

This conference calls upon the National Disabled Members Committee to work with National Executive to:

1.Lobby the Government to overturn the new funding regulations and reinstate them to at least their previous level.

2.Campaign for a greater package of support to be made available through Access to Work to support those who as a result of public sector benefit cuts will be expected to seek employment.

3.Lobby the Government for a full Equality Impact Assessment involving consultation with disabled people and the groups representing them on the changes outlined above.