The Access to Work (AtW) cap (set at one and half times the average salary) discriminates against Deaf BSL users disproportionately. Many Deaf people will be left without support when at work and as a result will be unable to progress within their chosen careers. In the instances where Deaf people’s employers are able to make contributions, they effectively become stuck in those jobs, unable to apply for new work elsewhere as they will bring with them a price tag. The whole aim of the AtW scheme was to level the playing field, yet the cap creates another barrier to employment.
NUBSLI was recently invited to speak at the StopChanges2AtW parliamentary launch of their ‘Barriers to Work’ report and ‘Improving Access to Work’ recommendations . There are concerns that AtW are intending to use the Crown Commercial Services framework to procure interpreting services in a bid to counter the effect of the cap the government are imposing on high support AtW recipients.
Any use of a Framework Agreement will instigate its own cap on the hourly amount for any contract. Any agency administering the AtW budget for a Deaf person will use this amount to cut the rates of pay for an interpreter so that it comes in below their budget.
The fees offered to a professional interpreter would be below market rates which means interpreters will not be able to work for those amounts, resulting in even fewer interpreters being available to work within AtW settings. It will have the long term effect of forcing interpreters to leave the profession. The DWP would be attempting to control the market by using a framework that does not follow the market rates interpreters charge.
NUBSLI have worked closely with StopChanges2AtW, DPAC, Inclusion London, Deaf AtW, Graeae Theatre and received the support of Unite the Union, since changes to the AtW scheme first began. We are aware that other groups of disabled people are also being hit by the cap, and it is essential that we all work together to ensure that any suggested solution to this issue works for everyone.
We continue to strongly oppose changes which are detrimental and disadvantageous to Deaf and disabled people in accessing employment.