Steve McCabe MP stands up for disabled people in the face of Government cuts

Steve McCabe MP has spoken out against further Government cuts to the Access to Work Programme which supports disabled people in work.

For over a year, Steve McCabe MP has been actively campaigning for deaf people after learning of their struggles to stay in employment because of government hostility towards their need for communication support. During the last Parliament, the Government introduced a 30 hour rule, capping the number of hours deaf people could access communication support at an unrealistic £20 per hour rate for sign language interpreters.  

The 30 hour rule was reviewed by the Government after pressure from disability campaigners and has now been scrapped. The Work and Pensions Select Committee scrutinised the changes the Government made to Access to Work and concluded that the Treasury should commit additional funding to enable deaf people to access flexible communication support to carry out their jobs effectively.

However, it appears the Government have ignored this advice and plan to introduce a different cap on claimants based on average salaries which would make it difficult for deaf people to progress in their careers. The impact of this means that a deaf person would have to earn over £27,000 to claim a higher rate of Access to Work so the support they would receive would not meet their needs. This was revealed in a report on Access to Work by the DWP just hours after the General Election result. The report does recognise that these changes will disproportionately affect deaf people and put employers off recruiting them. Access to Work currently has 5,750 Deaf and hearing loss customers, 3,084 of whom have awards for British Sign Language interpretation and are likely to be impacted by the new framework.

In addition to this news, David Cameron has downgraded the Minister for Disabled People post to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State calling into question the importance the PM gives to the interests of disabled people.

Steve McCabe MP said:

“It is absurd to make it more difficult for deaf people to work. It appears the Government has simply replaced a punitive cap on deaf people with another one under a different name.

“Many of my deaf constituents rely heavily on communication support to maintain their economic independence and are very worried about the impact these caps will have on them which is why I have demanded answers from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I’m interested to know why the Government are intent on penalising the most vulnerable in our society and I’ve asked to see figures on what it costs to support someone via the Access to Work programme versus the costs of paying out of work benefits. Surely we should be supporting disabled into work, not putting up barriers.”

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