Bishop of St Albans raises concerns of deaf people about cap on Access to Work fund

On 29th June 2015 Lord Touhig asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Access to Work fund and what plans they have to help people with disabilities into work.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question about the impact on deaf people of the cap on Access to Work grants.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister a little about the very real concerns of many people in the deaf community about the use of British Sign Language, not least because currently four-fifths of the highest-value awards are paying for BSL services. Indeed, the DWP’s own figures show that almost 90% of the users who will be affected by the cap that is to be brought in are deaf. How do the Government plan to continue to support and encourage deaf professionals on a par with the hearing community in the light of this cap?

Baroness Altmann: I reassure the right reverend Prelate that we will continue to support deaf people and people with hearing loss. Specialist teams will help customers and their employers with advice on adjustments and technological support and with personal budgets so that users can manage their support flexibly themselves when the scheme is rolled out later in 2015-16. We are also in discussions with relevant stakeholders about how best to plan the implementation. As I said, existing customers will be protected until 2018 while we work through the transition.