Access to Work is to rewrite its guidance on ‘additionality’ that has led to some deaf people losing all financial support for sign language interpreting.
The decision came after the UK Council on Deafness and others brought it to the attention of officials at the Department of Work and Pensions. Last week they released a statement saying, “guidance in this area had been applied incorrectly, advisers have received clarification on this issue and steps will now be taken to rectify the situation”.
Access to Work will now be contacting people who asked for the decision to withdraw their support to be reconsidered. People who have been affected by the wrong interpretation of the guidance but haven’t yet requested a reconsideration should contact Access to Work.
In the past few months, deaf people working with both deaf and hearing people were dismayed to learn the support they had been receiving to pay for sign language interpreters was being stopped. The reason given was that if a hearing person was doing the job they would need an interpreter to communicate with the deaf people. Access to Work therefore decided there was no extra cost to the employer.
Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “People who are deaf or deafblind have been the most affected by the changes made to Access to Work, and they will be most affected by the cap on awards. These constant problems make the community feel it is being singled out, and that’s not right.
“In this case a significant issue was cleared up relatively quickly, but some users of Access to Work have again paid the price for a mistaken interpretation of guidance. It happened with the guidance about employing a support worker, and now this.
“So we have stressed to them that they need to look closely at how interpretations of guidance quickly become ‘rules’ applied by all advisers. We are asking the Department to ‘road test’ future changes to policy and related guidance before implementation.”