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April 2024

Access to Work inquiry receives almost 300 responses – and mainly from deaf people and organisations

The Work and Pensions Committee has received almost 300 written submissions to its inquiry into Access to Work.

According to the Committee, a large majority of those submissions came from deaf people and the organisations that work with and for them.

And that’s before the extended deadlines for submissions in British Sign Language (BSL) and from people with learning disabilities or limited English literacy have been reached.

That number is much higher than usual. In 2013, Third Sector reported a ‘record high’ of 186 submissions to a Public Administration Committee inquiry.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “The number of submissions that talk about the impact of Access to Work on deaf people reflects the fact there are clear issues with the scheme.

“People are saying the same things: customer service is poor, consistency is lacking and policies are damaging to job prospects. But above all there’s a strong message that Access to Work simply doesn’t understand deaf people and the support they need in work.

“The number of responses and their consistency is also testament to the fact deaf people and organisations have come together on this. We look forward to working with the Committee and the DWP to make sure it’s sorted out to everyone’s benefit.”

Problems with Access to Work, which provides funding for practical support to help disabled people find or stay in work, surfaced towards the end of 2013. Since then, the UK Council on Deafness has been talking to the Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP, and Department for Work and Pensions officials.

As a result, on 14 May the Minister announced a review of the scheme to run alongside the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry. A consultation is expected to begin at the end of July.

The UK Council on Deafness submission to the inquiry is available online in English and British Sign Language.