A Deaf chief executive has launched a legal case against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over its “discriminatory” cap on the amount of support available to help disabled people with disability-related expenses at work.David Buxton, chief executive of Action on Disability in London, is one of many British Sign Language-users who have been hit by the imposition of the cap on payments made by the Access to Work (AtW) scheme.Campaigners have been warning for the last two years that the cap, which limits annual AtW awards to one-and-a-half times the average salary, would hit Deaf users of BSL and disabled people with high support needs the hardest.But they have also warned that the cap discriminates against those in senior positions, like Buxton.AtW provides disabled people with funding to pay for some of the extra disability-related expenses they face at work – including travel, personal assistants or the use of BSL interpreters – reducing the costs organisations have to meet when taking on disabled employees.The cap was introduced for new AtW claimants in 2015 and is due to affect existing claimants from April 2018Buxton’s legal papers were served on DWP on Tuesday, just days after the government launched its 10-year work, health and disability strategy, which aims to increase the number of disabled people in work by one million by 2027.There was no suggestion in the strategy that the government would remove the cap.Buxton (pictured, left, giving evidence to a House of Lords committee in 2015), whose case is being funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “This case is being brought because the government has made the decision to limit my career by denying me the funds to pay for the linguistic access I need to be able to fulfil my job. “Access to Work is a fantastic grant which allows Deaf and disabled people to remain in employment and doesn’t make the disabled employee a ‘no-no’ on the grounds of cost. “For me as a Deaf person, and a CEO, this means using professional sign language interpreters at high-level meetings with various authorities, policy-makers, staff and members. “Putting a cap on the AtW grant makes no economic sense. “For every £1 I am awarded for AtW, I give back in taxes by virtue of being employed.“It doesn’t stop there. In being employed, I give work to a number of interpreters, and, at other times, to palantypists, who are all contributing in fulfilling ways and paying taxes too. “The impact of AtW is far-reaching and extremely positive. Awarding AtW makes sense, a cap on AtW awards doesn’t.” Buxton argues that he has been discriminated against under the Equality Act and that DWP breached its public sector equality duty when drawing up the cap policy.Disability News Service reported seven months ago how Buxton had been told that AtW would only provide him with enough support to pay for interpreters three days every week.He began his full-time job in London in May, and was immediately hit by the cap.His solicitor, Anne-Marie Jolly, from Deighton Pierce Glynn, said: “As a result of this case, the government’s decision to cap Access to Work funding will finally be exposed to the scrutiny of the high court.“Government decision-making around Access to Work has historically been lacking in clarity and transparency.“In keeping with that history, the decision to cap the scheme was made with no formal consultation or adequate evidence base, despite its profound impact on those affected.“Mr Buxton’s claim makes the case that the Access to Work cap breaches Deaf and disabled people’s human rights and right to be treated equally.“The cap perversely impacts on those with the most demanding jobs and highest support needs, the overwhelming majority of whom are Deaf BSL-users, preventing them and their employers or businesses from reaching their fullest potential.”Research commissioned by Inclusion London, and published in October, found the future of the AtW scheme was in jeopardy because of “bureaucratic incompetence” and a cost-cutting drive to reduce people’s support packages.Ellen Clifford, campaigns and policy manager for Inclusion London, which is supporting the case through its Disability Justice Project, said: “The cap is already having a serious negative impact on Deaf and disabled people’s employment.“On the one hand, the government say they want to reduce the disability employment gap and get another million disabled people into work, yet here is a disability employment scheme with a track record of success and it is being cut and changed to a point where it is no longer a viable form of support.“Deaf and disabled people are frustrated and anxious at the risk of unemployment and benefit dependency, which will come at a much higher cost to the state than the support package they need to remain in work.”Geraldine O’Halloran, co-founder of the StopChanges2AtW campaign, added: “The idea put forward by the government that employers will pay for the support that Deaf and disabled people need in order to do their jobs on an equal basis with non-disabled people is nonsense.“However much an employer values you, the majority of employers don’t have the spare money to effectively pay to take on Deaf or disabled staff.“Yet in the bigger picture it benefits the government to invest in disability employment support, with research showing that the Treasury makes a surplus on investment for every pound invested in Access to Work, and that’s before the wider benefits of savings to the NHS and social care are taken into consideration.”A DWP spokeswoman said the department could not comment on an ongoing legal case.
LANCE Hohaia has taken delivery of a sporty little number thanks to two local firms.Airtec Filtration and Car Lease UK have sponsored the Hyundai IX35 that the Kiwi International will drive this season.Established in 1997, Airtec Filtration has provided customers with a complete solution to their dust and fume control needs and in doing so have reduced the pollutants in the workplace and consequently the environmental impact on the world we live in. They have established a reputation for quality workmanship at competitive prices by providing innovative and cost-effective engineering solutions.The award winning Car lease UK is a vehicle leasing company, based in Leigh Nr Manchester, which has been owned by the King family for 40 years.It is the fastest growing leasing company in the country and aims to provide consistently competitive funding options on most makes/models of cars and commercial vehicles, including Business and Personal Contract Hire packages, as well as Business and Personal Contract Purchase and also Lease Purchase.Airtec’s MD, Mike Redmond, is a big fan of the club having been a long-time supporter, sponsor and shareholder.He said: “I have been a fan for many years and my first major sponsorship was being involved with a consortium of local businesses who finally managed to bring Paul Newlove to the Saints, which history has proved was a very wise and significant signing that transformed the club at that time! “I’m proud to sponsor Lance Hohaia and I’m sure he will become another one of those significant signings. Good Luck Lance!”Brother-in-law Mike King, from Car Lease UK, was also involved in the Newlove deal and was inspired to sponsor the club after seeing the work of Chairman Eamonn McManus.“I was in awe of Eamonn and what he has done for Saints,” he said. “He invested in the club when probably no one else would have done and his passion and commitment to the Saints is second to none.“I wanted to return that in a small way and I’m sure Lance will enjoy the new car!”
“We had another great week of training and had been playing well but things didn’t go our way pretty much straight away again,” he said. “It was similar to last week. We did some dumb things, took poor options and put ourselves under pressure.“Last week we were good enough to get out of it and this week we weren’t.“Take nothing away from Huddersfield. They ran harder, tackled harder and did everything better than us tonight.“Basic errors are hurting us the most. We got away with it last week – but we can’t continuously do that and expect to win games. And we didn’t deserve to win tonight.“To take a positive, to only be six down at half time was good and to score early in the second half showed some great character from some players.“But we weren’t good enough in the back half of that game because we burned a lot of energy in the first half. It came back and bit us late.“We are trying hard as a group but we have to learn to be a lot smarter.”Ryan Morgan (pictured) will have a knee injury assessed over the next couple of days with Holbrook saying it doesn’t look great for the centre.
Easter wins over Wigan, Widnes and Hull FC have them four points clear at the summit ahead of the game at Mobile Rocket Stadium.“We know we can get better and are still working towards that,” Holbrook said. “The playing group is really level headed here and are training well. We know we have hard games coming up but every time we run out on to the field I feel confident in what we have done during the week, and that is all you can ask for.“We set high standards here, they live to those and that continued this week. We gave them four days off and when you come back in it can take some time to get back into it.“But it was the opposite, we had to pull them back a bit and it’s this that gives me confidence every week.“Although we are happy with where we are at, we have another tough opponent coming up on Sunday.“Wakefield have been pipped three games in a row so we know it will be hard.“They haven’t been far off in most weeks and are a dangerous side. They are playing well and have been consistent.“It is a good place to play too. We had a real nail biter there last time, and six weeks before that we had a good game there so it is one we are looking forward to.”Saints will be without James Roby for Sunday’s game – and that is likely to see a promoted role for Matty Smith.“Robes won’t play. He has rib cartilage damage so will be out this week, possibly next. Ben Barba is fit to play; he had a virus last week and we nearly could have played him but it was better that he got himself right.“We have options at nine and it will be good for Matty Smith to be involved again. He has been good all along. He may not have had many games but has been fantastic all the way through. He will be in this week.“Alex Walmsley is also on the mend. He won’t have a scan until the end of May now but is doing well.”Tickets for Sunday’s game remain on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.