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‘Parliament & Policy Work’ Category

03 FebDWP pilots Access to Work personal budgets

On Monday the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, announced a pilot of personal budgets for the Access to Work scheme.

In a statement to Parliament he said: “We are trialling a new feature of the access to work scheme. From today we shall be testing the use of personal budgets, which will allow disabled people who have received grants to decide exactly how and when the money can best be used to support their individual needs. That gives them more choice and more control over the support they receive to help them to start work, to stay in work, or even to start a business.”

The announcement follows a statement made by the Minister for Disabled People in March 2015, which was the result of negotiations about the scheme with our Access to Work special interest group.

15 JanDWP trials access by telephone for sign language users

People who use British Sign Language (BSL) can now contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) via telephone.

DWP has begun a six month pilot of a service that allows people whose first or only language is BSL to contact DWP about Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance (65+), Disability Living Allowance (under 65) and Access to Work. Following the pilot the Department intends to provide the service via the Crown Commercial Service framework agreement for language services.

The video relay service (VRS), provided by SignVideo, connects the deaf person to a sign language interpreter via a camera on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The hearing person at DWP will be connected to the interpreter via a telephone.

The service will be open to everyone during normal working hours. All someone has to do is click on the hyperlink on the relevant web page and they will be connected.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “The UK Council on Deafness is delighted DWP has taken this step to open up access for deaf people who use BSL. We trust the pilot will be successful and look forward to more government services becoming accessible, as they are in Scotland.

“We are also glad the Department has commissioned one of the companies that has voluntarily agreed to our standards for VRS. It means deaf people can be assured the interpreter will be registered with NRCPD or a member of SASLI, which means they will be properly qualified and follow a code of conduct.”

04 JanDWP seeks evidence for market review

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is seeking evidence for a review of the communication and language support market. The Department today published the call for evidence. The deadline for submissions is 4 March 2016. The review is being led by DWP but covers

  • the whole of the UK;
  • all forms of support that enable communication between deaf, deafblind and hearing people; and
  • all settings, including education, employment, health and social care, the arts, and sport.

The review will seek to estimate current and future supply and demand in the UK, but international evidence is welcome. It will also consider the current and future impact of technology on the market, such as video relay services.

All interested organisations and individuals that have relevant information or experience are invited to make a submission. In particular, unpublished data and research are welcome.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “This review is the welcome outcome of collaboration between DWP and the deaf sector over the past two years. It’s great to see government departments and the UK Council on Deafness leading it together.

“The review will help us understand what we need to do to make sure deaf and deafblind people have equal access to all walks of life. I encourage anyone who has relevant evidence to send it to DWP.”

If you have any questions about the review, please contact DWP via

The questions

What is the size and value of the demand for the different types of communication and language support in the UK?

How might this demand change in the future?

What is the number of communication and language professionals nationally and the type and level of skills that are on offer?

How might this supply change in the future?

What are the types of technology currently available that facilitate communication and the future developments in the pipeline?

How might an increasing uptake of both current technology and new developments affect the market for communication and language services in the future?

16 DecDWP piloting online access to Access to Work

dwpThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is looking for new deaf and deafblind applicants to help it pilot its online application system for Access to Work

DWP believes deaf and deafblind people will particularly benefit from the new online service. They will appreciate UK Council on Deafness members advising new deaf applicants to email ATW.DIGITALFIRSTCONTACT@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK saying they want to make an online application.

The applicant then be sent a unique link that will take them to the online form. By gathering more  information at the start, DWP expects the system to reduce the time it takes to make an award.

The online system is one of the improvements our Access to Work special interest group lobbied for during its negotiations with DWP over the past two years. Other improvements that have been or are being made include being able to contact Access to Work via email, the introduction of personal budgets, and guidance for individuals in BSL and English.

Following the pilot, the online application system will be launched nationally. We hope it will lead to the development of an online portal through which people can manage their Access to Work award.

16 DecJim Fitzpatrick MP new chair of APPG on Deafness

jim_fitzpatrick_mpJim Fitzpatrick MP was today elected char of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness at an extraordinary general meeting. The vote became necessary after the previous chair, Lilian Greenwood MP, was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. One of Jim’s first aims as chair is to secure a Westminster Hall debate on NHS provision of hearing aids. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been considering proposals to ration provision.