The UK Council on Deafness welcomes the Department for Work and Pensions’ desire to establish the return on investment delivered by Access to Work.
The need for research was identified in the equality analysis for the future of Access to Work. It said, “establishing the return on investment delivered by Access to Work will build the case for increased funding”.
David Buxton, director of the British Deaf Association and chair of the UK Council on Deafness Access to Work special interest group, said: “We’re pleased the DWP has listened and is committed to basing its decisions on good evidence.
“But in a recent meeting with officials we made it clear DWP needs to urgently explore the risk posed to the employment of deaf people by the Minister’s decision to cap Access to Work awards. Before it comes into effect in October DWP must ask employees and employers who rely on Access to Work what will happen if the cost of support can’t be reduced.
“They say in the equality analysis they did not have the evidence to be able to quantify the risks, which will ‘depend on employer behaviour’. But as the number of people affected is relatively small, they and their employers could easily have been contacted.
“We also asked DWP how they are going to support people who will be affected by the cap. They and their employers are going to need help dealing with this change to the basis of the scheme.
“Access to Work has always provided support needed above and beyond reasonable adjustments. But that has now changed – it is the people who need lots of support that are being penalised by this cap.
“Of the 200 people we know will be affected by the cap, 90 per cent are deaf or have a hearing loss. They are likely to have jobs that require them to attend lots of meetings and conferences, which is why they need more support.
“I wrote to the Minister for Disabled People in March expressing our concern that the cap suggests there is a legitimate limit on the worth and aspiration of disabled people. These people have worked hard to get to where they are today, and we need to continue to invest in them for their benefit, their employers’ benefit and the benefit of society as a whole.
“We therefore hope the research into the scheme’s return on investment will make the case not only for increased funding but reversing the decision to cap awards.”