Did you know? Parliament is checking on the funding that helps people with health conditions/disabilities to work.
I’ve just sent in comments for Parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee for their inquiry in to Access To Work support. This is the extra help/funding available for disabled people in work covering adaptive equipment, some travel assistance, support workers and more. Having talked to our own clients and from personal experience, I know just how vital this can be. The inquiry is particularly timely when there’s so much criticism of the flagship Work Programme and its poor record in assisting disabled people to get work that lasts. Alongside, the “Benefits Cap” is likely to have most impact on unemployed disabled people – so we are being squeezed in every direction, under pressure to get work but assistance is just not successful enough.
For the Access To Work debate, I’m plugging two main issues:
Firstly, we need much more transparent processes, criteria, documentation, customer service, appeals and complaints guidance that is used consistently – both across the country and for the long term.
Secondly, although only a tiny number of disabled people use support workers for long periods during their working week, they are now under pressure to use ATW funding to employ them themselves rather than use agencies. Is it realistic to expect those facing most difficulties in their employment to then take on all the complexities, responsibilities and risks of becoming an employer? What is really clear is that those pushing this policy don’t themselves have enough understanding of all the employment law: HMRC restrictions on self-employment, ACAS guidance on TUPE, new pension rights and more.
Hopefully, the Select Committee’s scrutiny will mean that Access To Work focuses more on the goal of helping people to work rather than making it even more difficult.
Bouquet of the week.
I was at Lauro’s in Fareham this week for another of their fabulous special international gourmet dinners – modern Japanese this time. These are wonderful evenings of exceptional food and great service where the whole rest restaurant follows the same menu of new experiences and tastes. I often go with another former naval Commander, Maggie, and other friends. The next one is the Arabian banquet in July and Mediterranean in August. It’s really good to have such an outstanding facility in our small town.