Legal action taken to challenge changes to Access to Work scheme

Human rights lawyers have sent a pre-action letter challenging the DWP to publish information detailing the eligibility criteria for its Access to Work scheme. The law firm Leigh Day describes the lack of available information surrounding the scheme as ‘inconsistent, unlawful and opaque’, reports Welfare Weekly.

Leigh Day is acting on behalf of the campaign group Stop Changes to Access to Work. The group are seeking clarification on the status of the ’30 hour rule’, which was suspended in May 2014 following concerns from d/Deaf and disabled people that the rule would affect their ability to find an maintain full time employment.

Ugo Hayter of Leigh Day said: ‘Access to Work users, who depend on the support provided to them by the scheme, are having their support arbitrarily cut or suspended, this is putting their employment and their businesses at serious risk’.

38 Degrees have expressed the concern that the Access to Work budget is insufficient to fund qualified interpreters for d/Deaf, d/Deaf blind and hard of hearing people. Jenny Sealey, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre recently revealed the impact that Access to Work cuts are having on her career stating that ‘Access is not a benefit, it’s a right’, Disability News Service.

Inclusion’s report Fit for Purpose released earlier this year, drew upon a previous evaluation which suggested that though many clients and employers were happy with the support offered through the scheme, ‘there was no systematic way of informing clients of its availability’, and therefore a lack of awareness amongst employers and Jobcentre Plus staff. This lack of awareness and information has been brought into focus by the pending court case, which has given the government 14 days to publish its Access to Work documentation before formal legal action is taken in the High Court.