The Collapse of Access To Work Continues Leaving Nowhere To Go For Sacked Remploy Workers

mike_penningThe slump in the Government’s Access To Work scheme has continued with around a third less people benefiting from the fund, which aims to help disabled people find and stay in employment, than during its peak in 2009/10.

Access To Work provides money for support workers, transport costs or other expenses for disabled workers.  The scheme began to collapse shortly after this Government weren’t elected with the number of new starts at an all time low – standing at 9,760 individuals beginning on Access To Work  in 2011/12 compared to 16,230 just two years earlier in 2009/10.

Since then the DWP has tried furiously to plug the scheme, broadening the criteria under which people can qualify to include Work Experience along with running high profile promotional campaigns. Despite all of this, Access To Work remains a disaster under the current Government – although that hasn’t stopped DWP big wigs boasting in the national press about how proud they are of their utter failure.

Access To Work is also available for people who are self-employed, leading some to speculate how many of those on the scheme have been bullied into precarious self-employment by shady Work Programme companies.  Even if this is the case, it has barely made an ounce of difference.

Just 10,390 people started receiving support in 2012/13 and this week’s figures for the first quarter of 2013/14 reveal things have barely got any better since then.  Should the dire performance continue throughout the year then less than 11,000 people are likely to start on Access To Work this year.

That’s 11,000 out of around 7 million working age disabled people in the UK.

Astonishingly the new Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Mike Penning (pictured) has hailed the latest dismal figures as a real success, claiming that a meagre 10% rise of those using the scheme over the last year is a ‘boost’ for disabled people.  Pennning doesn’t seem to have realised that 10% more of fuck all is still fuck all.  Perhaps most troubling of all, is that the accompanying gushing press release appears to tell a bare faced lie about the success of Access To Work stating that: “the recent set of statistics show the highest level of new claims since 2007 – with 10,390 new applications.”

As can be seen from the table below, the statistical release shows a very different story.

access-to-workAnd even this does not tell the full story of this Government’s abandonment of disabled workers.  Also this week came the news that two thirds of the sacked Remploy workers are still unemployed.  1,800 disabled workers at the Remploy factories have been laid off over the last couple of years with the promise that the Access To Work scheme would help them all back into the workplace.  According to The Mirror, just 535 of them have found jobs.  Further closures of most of the remaining Remploy factories are soon to take place.

The dreadful performance of Access To Work suggests two things.  Firstly that the DWP are inept and have bungled the promotion of the scheme.  Secondly that no matter how much the Government manufacture falling unemployment, for many of those who face barriers to employment, there are still no fucking jobs.

On the plus side, at least the DWP have stopped referring to disabled workers as ‘stock’ in the latest statistical release.

The latest Access To Work figures are available at:

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

17 responses to “The Collapse of Access To Work Continues Leaving Nowhere To Go For Sacked Remploy Workers

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Another DWP lie revealed! It turns out that the statistic claimed by the government in a press release I quoted ( is an outright lie. It was wrong to say that the number of people taking on Access to Work is the largest since 2007 – according to its own statistical release, the only year when FEWER people took part in the scheme was 2011-12!
    We’re all indebted to Johnny Void for digging out the facts – although his claim that Access to Work is collapsing may be taking matters too far. It’s doing about average – as far as its own modest previous results can demonstrate.
    But it is certainly nothing to write to the press about, as Mike Penning has done.

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  3. You’ve missed the effects of the cuts in Access to Work eligibility made in November 2010. Lots of minor aids and adaptations were excluded from ATW support from then on the grounds that employers should be paying for them. Which of course they probably should but try making them with no unions and no legal aid. Anyway that accounts for the halving of people ‘continuing to benefit’ numbers in 2012-13 (Table 2) and the sharp drop in new starts in 2011-12 (Table 3).

    They then realised it was cannier to promote AtW that run it down, after the Sayce review which recommended transferring funds from Remploy factories to AtW. That nice Liz Sayce from Disability Rights UK, having colluded in losing thousands of disabled people their jobs is apparently a bit miffed now that the money saved has not appeared in AtW spending:

    I got AtW help in my existing job in 2011-12, for transport costs (taxis to the station). Helped for a bit, then I had to give up work anyway. That typifies the problem with the whole scheme; it’s about making disabled people fit into a capitalist labour market, not about changing the terms on which that market operates. From that point of view Remploy was better, for all its segregation. A scheme that was genuinely designed to help would start with the disabled person and what they can achieve, then build the work round them.

    • overburdenddonkey

      richard.. i like your whole point and esp this….
      “That typifies the problem with the whole scheme; it’s about making disabled people fit into a capitalist labour market, not about changing the terms on which that market operates”.
      they expect human health to fit and flow with capitalism, as if capitalism is natural…

  4. Pingback: The Collapse of Access To Work Continues Leavin...

  5. This guy looks like. Selwyn Froggit only he’s NOT F****** MAGIC

  6. I applied for access to work to try and get a wheelchair. So many obstacles put in my way I gave up

  7. Landless Peasant

    On the BBC this:

    Disability welfare changes delayed by assessment process

  8. something survived...

    The Shaw Trust – saw the ads the other year and eventually asked for help, you know the one with the escapology guy upside down in chains (a good metaphor for the actual situation the government deliberately put the poor and disabled in). Their response was along the lines of “FOAD”. Since then, I’ve of course found out they are dodgy. Not really into helping disabled people at all.

    Remploy. Years ago I contacted them about work, but there was no major factory of theirs near me. Later they said they had ‘opportunities’ but not in a big factory. So I applied and they said ‘you are not disabled enough’. That’s hilarious as regular employers had been spending years saying a disabled person would slow down their business, dent their profits, be an obstacle, be a health and safety hazard, etc. So would refuse to employ me, or use it as a reason for firing me. At DWP I was never put onto the official Access to Work scheme because they, none of them doctors, decided before hearing anything about me, that I didn’t qualify. Instead they ordered me to go to Job Club.

    I refused for several years, they wanted to teach me to read and write!!!! I could do all their ‘jobs’ in my sleep and have written shedloads, thankyou very much, with published items going back years. Not to mention that I didn’t want to be put where a group therapy session with substance misusers would result in personal enemies there being told my name, address and medical information. But chiefly my objection was that it was run by the Scouts, a Christian/patriotic/jingoistic/militaristic/monarchist/homophobic organisation. I pointed out that even if I wanted to be a member, which of course I didn’t, The Scouts would refuse to have me join in any form whatsoever, paid or unpaid. And that I was not happy with making it look like I agreed with the Scouts as a discrimination group. Also I said the building had no disabled access to get in. I could enter but others couldn’t. That was the case for well over 15 years. Then the other year after I’d resisted being forced to go there, it won the contract for the work scheme. They were made to instal a dodgy ramp but did nothing else for disability access. They did not make seating that was accessible to people with different body sizes, so using the computers was uncomfortable or painful, and I often fell off their old and broken seats. They designated a toilet as a disabled toilet but it was not adapted in any way, and the door was half blocked by a photocopier. The real beauty of the toilet was its location. To get there you had to go up some steps, through a narrow corridor, and then down some stairs. This area did not have its own lighting either so was usually pretty dark. All of the stairs were dodgy throughout the building and even the ablebodied people kept tripping while using them. So I could be made to go there all day, have compulsory waters or coffees, and not be able to get to a toilet. The group therapy sessions and ‘lessons’ (!) [Example, they did Hayley Taylor the Jobmother’s A4E ‘life map’ where they draw a winding road and say ‘where do you want to be in five years time?’, in that patronising voice. Apparently the answer: ‘Dancing on your grave while shagging your parents’ is incorrect.] were all in a cramped and stuffy room UPSTAIRS. And yes, they stuck me in group therapy with several drug addicts; and a former HOUSEMATE who had a grudge against me for telling the truth about his druggy arsonist thief girlfriend, when the CID interrogated me about her because they were on the case of a house she’d burned down. (Funnily enough if I, regardless of my feelings on the girlfriend, had said nothing, refused to talk, or lied, they’d have jailed me.) I objected, and was allowed to leave the group; but was stuck downstairs doing mindless jobsearch and having them constantly rewrite-falsify my CV. Then have them say ‘this CV is crap, who wrote it?’, and have me reply that they’d written it. They and the Jobcentre denied they were the Scouts, till I proved it. Suddenly it ended and the Jobcentre kept sending me back to ask them for files or documents on me. One of the last times, they said the filing cabinet was locked; later, that they no longer had the files kept there. Which turned out not to be true, they were there all along. The JCP sent me back yet again and the building was locked. I told JCP, who sent me back. It was locked and stripped out. My files were gone with it, in the hands of anyone. JCP admitted the Scouts lost the contract, but expected me to retrieve stolen files. They’d gone bust and I rang head office, where they denied there had ever been such an office/branch. It got very Kafkaesque, or like Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’. JCP sent me back, I reported to them that it was now a salon and nail bar. They sanctioned me! Why? They said there were discrepancies in the end date of the work scheme, and accused me of stealing my own file! I said while it ran, often on the scheme I turned up to my appointments and the place was locked. Or it was open but they’d cancelled my appointment. So that is the Scouts work scheme.

    At some point during these years the queue was reshuffled and I found myself sent back to Remploy. I had to go to a talk in a room full of other disabled people, at JCP, on the benefits of work (oh like none of these ever occurred to us before, thankyou for enlightening us poor cabbage-crips or common-garden scroungers.). They spoke to us like we were 5. Asking us to disclose medical info in front of them, the JCP staff, the security guards, and the rest of the jobseekers/disabled. Quite a few of us knew eachother (disabled jobseekers). They did one-to-one interviews, again in front of everybody and covering stuff like continence care, hospital procedures, etc. They held me over till last, keeping me back almost half an hour extra, for my ‘interview’, and at the end of it they told me I am too disabled to be accepted for any of their programmes. JCP then blamed me for the interview (compulsory) not getting me a placement/job, and sanctioned me for Remploy having rejected me. Basically some of the key points: Remploy don’t want people with fluctuating unpredictable health conditions, hidden disabilities, progressive forms of epilepsy and numbness, hospital/clinic treatment, slowness at the piecework done in their factories, dyspraxia, etc. I asked Remploy to clarify to JCP what went on in the interview (though JCP and their security guards had been there), to try and undo my sanction. Remploy refused, as it was a breach of confidentiality. Confidentiality about MYSELF! When I was the subject of the benefits, interview, sanction, and appeal. Confidentiality about a ‘therapy’ meeting and interview that had been anything BUT confidential. At the same time I was in trouble for rent and bills, college fees, credit card charges, bank charges, because of having zero income when my HB was stopped because my JSA got sanctioned. And they say they want disabled people to be independent!

    Over the years I’ve been pinged back to the DEA (Disability Employment Advisor) (sic) half a dozen or so times. They are useless. When it was a woman in a wheelchair, she assumed her disability trumped everyone else’s, so theirs didn’t count as real disabilities. Also the fact she worked at DWP was proof DWP don’t discriminate and that everyone can get a job. We are just making excuses! (They laid her off some years later in the staff cuts and I’ve not seen her employed anywhere) Also she had divine insight into every disability and health condition in the universe. Making her an unassailable expert on our own conditions.
    The ablebodied ladies before and after her were no better, really. They said I was not disabled enough and tried sending me back to Remploy. The other year Remploy closed their nearest factory to us, still too far to commute let alone if skint and disabled, and laid everyone off including local reps/trainers and volunteers and admin staff. Access to Work was finishing, they asked me to go though they knew it was closing and I’d not qualify. They tried to put me on Pathways to Work but when they tried their computer said no. And after I’d done my back in after a month of workfare digging holes and filling them again, they told me to do another workfare. This one was at a church, clearing thick undergrowth. Getting there meant a 6am daily bus, getting home 8pm. I’d be outdoors all that time in all weathers, no PPE, and no toilets of any kind. Funny how they were simultaneously trying to put me on disability schemes or saying ‘go on the sick’, AND putting me forward for things I clearly can’t do. They ended up not making me go to that workfare. The people they sent included elderly, cancerous (some terminal) and physically disabled people (MS, Parkinson’s, CP, strokes). They included people with learning disabilities and difficulties, mental health problems, Alzheimer’s,
    social/behavioural problems, substance abuse disorders. They had to do it or lose their meagre benefits. Many were not on JSA so should not have been sent. The press photographed them, now everyone knows who they are. The association made by readers is with nearby gangs of community service people, convicted criminals. Anyway as well as being identified in public and stigmatised for being disabled/poor/unemployed/benefits/workfare, the paper referred to them as VOLUNTEERS. They did not interview the participants, just the workfare company and the church. The workfare company called it training opportunities, and made out that without them ‘helping’ these people, their lives used to be worthless and meaningless. At no point did they say it was a workfare scheme and the people worked in lousy conditions as slaves and could not leave. Also it hinted disability is a state of mind that makes you lazy. It didn’t point out that most of the slaves were physically and otherwise disabled. I wrote to the paper to explain the correct facts, and they refused to print my letter. Somebody at the paper told JCP though, and I got threatened with another sanction for having written it.

    Remploy, Scouts, A4E, Serco, Shaw Trust, Working Links….

    Bringing workfare right up to date, a job has been found locally for a young man with Down’s Syndrome. Hooray, you might say. But hold on. His employers do not pay him. They say ‘it’s enough that we employ you’.
    One male boss privately makes jokes about ‘mongs’. And the young man lost his assisted and adapted house because the spare room for a part-time live-in carer meant Bedroom Tax. He was reassessed for DLA as he needs care and supervision, but in the new format of PIP. Which he did not get. So he has been returned to ESA, but placed in the WRAG. And the computer selected him for an indefinite period of workfare. Working conditions themselves are not that bad but (if you don’t count having ablist boss above as a drawback) he doesn’t get paid. And is in no position to challenge any of this, or stop customers or other members of the public being rude.
    In the same village/town, which I can’t name as it’s small, a group of ‘care in the community’ adults with severe learning disabilities (not Down’s syndrome) are clearly neglected by whoever should ‘care’ for them. They do not get washed, ever. That should indicate they need help, but nobody in authority has made the connection. Now, they attend some sort of daycare centre on weekdays, but whoever runs it hasn’t done anything in years towards getting them proper care and representation. Now… let’s imagine that one day, not far from today, a brown DWP envelope comes to these men or to their legal guardians, ordering them that they must now go on workfare, or a community placement. Often these amount to the same thing. First, they must abandon their daycare centre. Second, they must learn a new route to commute to their workfare. Third, they will be sent to their (equally unwilling, if a charity shop) workfare provider (in a chain, branches can’t choose about central policy, staff are volunteers too). In their current state, they are guaranteed to keep all members of the public far away from the charity shop or anything the workfare recruits have been near or touched. Staff who want to be there (or need the job) will either stay and feel sick all day, or be forced to leave. Other workfare people sent there have no option.
    The workfare could of course be ‘looking after the elderly’. In which no consideration is given either to the recipients of a service, or to the potential or actual providers of that service. The government only see a statistic, a job created or filled. Without skills, training, or social functioning, or basic personal hygiene…. Imagine being one of these elderly people, prisoners with no ability or right to get out of being stripped and washed by a (stinking) person of the opposite sex, who may lack any notion of boundaries about sexual touching. (Not a generalisation, but a specific fact about this specific group) In an ironic twist they could be sent to ‘care’ at the project for people with Down’s Syndrome, or at a home for people with physical disabilities.
    Then again, perhaps they aren’t sent to such a public-facing role. A lot of our local workfare is where young men are sent to stand all day in high-vis clothes holding stop and start signs at roadworks. If the group I mentioned, who have trouble crossing the road, or telling left from right, were sent to do this, they might find it impacted on their life expectancy.

    Earlier in the week I saw two people on workfare, a man and a woman. The woman picks litter in the street from 5am to noon, then at noon the man takes over till 7pm. I got talking to the woman as they changed shifts. She said they don’t get paid anything for their bus to and from the workfare, or cleaning products for their bodies/hair and uniforms, or cost of getting another bus to the launderette and then washing the uniform there. The shoes (steel toe capped boots) are uncomfortable to walk in and don’t fit. The gripper they are meant to use gives you RSI and numbness in your dominant hand and arm. It’s cold but if you use gloves you can’t really work the gripper, especially if like her you have small hands. If you had shorter arms you could not use the gripper. You can soon be dragging round a heavy sack. Some days it’s not too bad (though in all weathers), just crisp packets and sweet wrappers. Some days it can be takeaways, vomit, spit, snot, dog shit, used nappies, syringes. Not all the PPE fits properly. Often the bus is late, does not turn up, you have to stand, or the driver won’t let you on because you stink of garbage, ‘go home and wash’ and she’ll say ‘but I’m TRYING to get home!’.
    Given the government’s track record, I’d rather put this litter-picking woman in charge of helping the poor and unemployed. The new minister for murdering disabled people can be sent to do her workfare instead!

    Workfare. Good for society since Berlin 1933!

  9. They tried Remploy on me, i visited and was told there was really nothing they could do to help me other than MAYBE a part time pretend job at Sainsburys or volunteer work, as i am better qualified and more capable than the half the workers at Remploy…..i asked if they had any volunter places working for Remploy, the reply was “No”, there ended the ever so helpful Remploy service.

    My last job as a grphic designer for a new compnay in the area was abissmal, leaking roof and bare electrics led to dangerous working conditions, no heating, no health and safety, often the lights would flicker and the PC bluescreen and you would hear a BZZZZZTT as a raindrop fell on bare electrics, there was an old portable gas fire which had no safety testing, which one day went out, and i din’t notice until i started feeling tired with a thumping head ache…….it was the bosses first business, he was turkish and couldnt speak english very well at all, two russian packers and a muslim web developer….NONE could speak english well at all, he spoke of how white girls were good to rape, and how stupid whte men are, i put up with this daily for 2 months, and found it hard to handle, so i went to the job centre to ask about my rights to give the job up, i was told “we are here to help people into work NOT out of it”……BUT, they don’t even fucking do that!!!!
    I returned to work, he hored a 19 year old blonde white girl as a secretary, even though she was inept at EVERYTHING, she lasted 4 days because he groped her and constantly made demeaning remarks to her and sexual advances.

    So why do i need to pass a CRB check to work with vulnerable adults, but i do NOT need one to start my own business to employ them and be in a position of power over them??

    The system is sick and getting sicker, the only answer seems to be to demolish it and try again.

    The job centre does NOTHING to help people into work, they are there to accept your signature and threaten you with starvation and homelessness…and NOTHING ELSE!!!!
    The workers have shit contemptuous attitudes, and stand around most of the day talking about where they’re going on holiday this year!!!!!

    If i am ‘on the jobcentre books’, then why am in ot AUTOMATICALLY put forward for EVERY job i am capable of??
    You go to the JC, and you are listed as available for hire, so why am i not receiving phone calls of job offers?

    It should be called the PeopleCentre, where EMPLOYERS go to get an employee, NOT the other way around, then we wouldn’t have out of touch politicians moaning that people are not doing enough to find work, if the employers want an employee, then log on to People centre and selct some for interview.


    But then again it seems the Government doesn’t like things that actually work!

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