Press release: Business Disability Forum calls on Government to reject suggestions to axe Access to Work programme

11 May 2015

London, UK - Business Disability Forum (BDF) calls on the Government to immediately and publicly reject a document released by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hours after last week's election result, which suggested that the Access to Work (AtW) programme - the only programme with a 100% success rate in enabling disabled people to work - may be axed. 

More than 110,000 disabled people have been assisted to get and stay in jobs since 2007 through the ATW programme, with more than 35,500 people assisted in the last 12 months. ATW is an innovative, practical and successful partnership between Government and employers (business and public sector) where Government meets the extraordinary costs that would otherwise prevent an employer hiring a person with particular disabilities. These include costs of support workers and transport.

Only in March 2015, Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper MP informed the House that 'AtW plays a key part in building a Disability Confident Britain' and the average award per individual is about £3,000, with half of all awards being less than £1,000. This is not even one third of the cost of keeping a disabled person on benefits and that is without taking into account the extra tax revenues collected by Government when an individual is a tax paying citizen and not a benefits recipient.

The bipartisan Work and Pensions Committee Inquiry in December 2014 were highly critical of DWP's administration of this programme.  The Committee recommended DWP make substantial improvements in transparency of process and decision making, customer service, consistency in the way guidance was applied and to undertake substantially more robust analysis to evidence the costs and benefits of the programme.

BDF Director of Policy, Services and Communications George Selvanera said:

"The Government should immediately restate its commitment to Access to Work, reject DWP's document and ensure continued partnership with business to deliver real jobs for disabled people. While it is right that the Government makes savings, saving pennies to lose pounds is obviously enough not the way to do it." 

"DWP seems to misunderstand the purpose of this programme and isn't publishing any analysis to demonstrate the gains to the taxpayer. Access to Work is not a benefit but a successful partnership with employers that has a 100% success rate in helping disabled people work and stay in work." 

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

  • BDF is a world leading business membership organisation bringing together large private and public organisations to build increasingly disability smart businesses. Formerly called the Employers’ Forum on Disability, the company has more than twenty years’ experience of working with public and private sector employers and service providers.For more information about BDF please visit: http://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/about-us.
  • For media enquiries or interview opportunities, please contact Ashley Teaupa, Interim Communications, Marketing and Events Manager on 020 7089 2463 or email ashleyt@businessdisabilityforum.org.uk.