Despite a gushing press release from Minister for Murdering Disabled People Esther Mcvey, statistics released this week show that the number of disabled ‘stock’ helped through the Access To Work scheme remains at record low levels.
Access To Work is used to fund transport, support workers, specialist equipment and other vital measures for enable disabled people to start, and stay in work. When the decision was made to close the Remploy factories, this was the scheme that lying ministers claimed would help sacked workers find employment.
Despite these bold claims, figures suggest that the number of people helped by the scheme has collapsed since this Government weren’t elected. 16,540 people started to receive support from the scheme in the year 2009/10. By last year that number had fallen to just 10,000 and this week’s statistics, in which disabled people are referred to as ‘stock, show the situation is not getting any better.
The bottom row in the above table reflects the number of people who actually received help for the first time in 2012/13, which is likely to be around 10,330 – and only then if the numbers remain stable.
The figures for new registrations to the scheme, which means people accepted on Access To Work but who have not necessarily yet received any help, are even more underwhelming. There were just 9,740 new registrations in 2011/12 and 7,380 in the first three quarters of 2012/13*.
Mcvey claims that she is ‘encouraged’ by these dire figures. This is down to the simple fact that a couple of hundred more people with mental health conditions have received help than previously. Usually we hear of ministers talking in terms of millions, or at least thousands of people. Access To Work is such a shambles that the number of disabled people helped is discussed in the 100s. The number of sick and disabled people who are unemployed is estimated to be around 2.5 million.
Astonishingly, there is no guarantee that those who have used the scheme are even in real paid jobs. Changes introduced in October last year mean that Access To Work can now be used to fund people who are “about to start a Work Experience placement through the Youth Contract”.
Perhaps the scheme should be renamed Access To Workfare?
The latest figures can be found at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/atw/atw0413.pdf
*Whilst this may result in a miniscule rise of 100 registrations over the year these figures are not yet finalised and may change slightly. They could of course also fall over the last quarter. In other words all we can really say for sure is that since Esther Mcvey took over as Minister, nothing has changed. The number of people helped into work is still well over a third less than it was prior to this Government.
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