Much has been said about Lord Freud’s recent misplaced comments on the net worth of a disabled person to an employer and how the level of pay should reflect that.
Graeae’s position is that the value of the employee is not linked to disability and that it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employment is meaningful to both parties. There should NEVER be a situation in which someone’s value is lower than the minimum wage.
Lord Freud’s, David Cameron’s and Esther McVey’s recent comments have all alluded to how in reality lives are changing in a positive way for disabled people. We are led to believe that the disability benefit reforms are ‘looking after disabled people’ and ‘supporting people with disabilities’ and ‘helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment’.
That may have been the intention but unfortunately it is not the reality.
A number of schemes have been affected by cuts and policy changes. The three that most directly affect Graeae and its employees are: Disability Living Allowance, Independent Living Fund and Access to Work (ATW). Delays in processing claims, rejected claims and lost paperwork have resulted in un-claimable costs that are so substantial that they have meant Graeae has needed to cancel work.
- Graeae’s employees are facing delays in the processing of ATW applications of up to eight months – and counting.
- The company is currently awaiting decisions on 10 ATW applications, some of which date back to February 2014. It is also disputing a further 4 decisions.
- The activity for 8 of the outstanding 10 ATW applications has now happened and Graeae has had to incur the cost in the hope that it could be reclaimed.
‘At Graeae, we are in turmoil: There is more interest in the company locally and internationally than ever before. Our artistic and training programme remains ambitious but we face a real threat of such ambitions being unrealised because of Access to Work cuts of up to £125k. The impact of waiting to find out if costs are going to be covered means we are already having to cancel future plans. It makes it impossible to plan as you don’t know where you stand. We are seriously concerned about what the future holds.’ Jenny Sealey MBE