If you’ve been listening to the likes of Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), Esther McVey, Lord Freud and of course David Cameron, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that everything in the disability garden was coming up roses.
They claim that the changes that they are making to the benefits system are all designed to help genuine disabled people get the financial assistance that they need, and at the same time weed out the imposters who are responsible for bankrupting this country [sic].
Well, we’ve all seen what their ‘weeding out’ processes can do, with a high percentage of disabled individuals having their Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and/or their Access to Work (ATW) payments stopped resulting in thousands of recorded deaths.
We’ve seen IDS caught out in his lies about the true cost of his cuts to benefits, and his flagship private enterprise company ATOS found guilty of the wrongful assessment of hundreds of thousands of disabled people, most of whom had their benefits reinstated when challenged through the court of appeal!
Surely it can’t get any worse? Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you, but it is. IDS and his cronies are now targeting many of the services and resources that disabled people rely on to find work, or to remain in work. These include the British Sign Language translation services which allow many Deaf people to engage in employment or to interact within the arts.
Speaking with some Deaf friends recently, one of them told me that they’ve had their entitlement to a sign language interpreter cut completely whilst at work. According to the ATW advisor who assessed their claim for a continuation of this service, the DWP was not in the habit of paying someone to do the job that the disabled person should have been doing!
No, I don’t get it either ...
Something that most disabled people have been aware of for some time now has been the change in attitude of the Access to Work benefits advisors.
Originally set up to assist disabled people to find work and then enable them to keep their jobs, these ATW staff seem hell bent on throwing up as many barriers as they can, rather than working with disabled people to remove them.
Now a whistleblower in the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) has come out of the woodwork and told BBC News of a “cultural shift” within the Access to Work (ATW) department where he’s employed as an advisor.
He told the BBC reporter: “We were checking [applicants] rather than supporting. We weren’t asking ‘how can we help you?’ We were looking at how to possibly even try to catch you out or restrict you.”
BBC News has also obtained additional evidence suggesting the changes to the government's Access to Work programme is denying disabled people the chance to work rather than helping them into employment with the number of new successful applicants dropping by nearly 25%.
And all this time we thought it was just us ...
See Hear's programme investigating changes in the Access to Work scheme is available on BBC i-player until 23 November