Nov 292011

Government figures have revealed a significant drop in the numbers of disabled people being accepted and continuing to receive Access to Work support, the Government Programme to support disabled people in employment.

The Government is keen to refer to Access to Work in the rhetoric they use to justify their approach to disability. At the Disability Capital conference in October the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, said that whilst the government was “reforming” the benefits system they were also supporting disabled people into employment through investing in Access to Work. The Sayce Report in June 2011 recommended using savings from closing Remploy services to invest in Access to Work. The report gave the figure that for every £1 spent on Access to Work, the State recoups £1.48. Spending on Access to Work makes a profit for the State.  At a time of austerity it would seem logical to think that the Government would be making an effort to support and promote Access to Work.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal a different picture. Figures show that just 2,320 ‘new customers’ were helped by the Access to Work (AtW) scheme in the first quarter of 2011-12, an average of 773 disabled people receiving new support every month. In the first half of last year, the government was helping about 1,283 new customers a month. This fell to 980 a month in the third quarter of 2010-11, and then again to an average of just 867 a month from January to March 2011.  The new figures also show that the number of existing AtW ‘customers’ – those continuing to receive support – has dropped by almost 4,000, to just 18,570.

While the rhetoric sounds good, the figures confirm what many of us have long suspected: that the government has no intention of following up its empty words and investing further in Access to Work. Access to Work staff are clear that they have been given a direction of travel to limit resources and taper off support wherever they

can. This fits with the government’s ideology of reducing state “dependency”. Whereas the government may talk about getting disabled people into employment, they are not prepared to use state-funded support to get us there. This ideology is already costing disabled people jobs, it is denying us equality and moreover is costing the state profits it can ill-afford to turn its nose up at.

The DWP’s Access to Work official statistics are available at:

Sources for this article include Disability News Service


 Posted by at 18:37

  One Response to “Access to Work – customer numbers dropping”

  1. I used Access to Support in many of my previous jobs. As things go with employment these days, I found many of my jobs being made redundant, but on previous occasions it seemed there was greater support. For instance, I am now being asked to pay a contribution towards my travel fare, though on previous occasions, the whole amount was paid by Access to Work.
    Unfortunately, this makes my life quite difficult because the ‘voluntary’ contributions make travel to work quite prohibitive, and without the transport, I cannot comfortably get to work. I also find that they ask a lot more questions these days, and want more evidence for your disability, and usually they set al sorts of clauses for the support, which I had never found to be the case in the past. Access to Work support is essential for people with disabilities because where the employers don’t help, the government did. In the past, this support allowed me to work, stay relatively healthy, and also gain valuable work experience. I hope they make it easier again, and don’t be as mean because in the end, if disabled people are given the support, that will result in them gaining some good work experience which helps develop their careers. Without this support, many people would struggle to work, and I think the government is putting pressure on Acess to Work to reduce support.

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