New Access to Work rules will make the arts less diverse at every level

By Graeae Team, March, 8 2015

The reforms will terminate the careers of many emerging Deaf and disabled artists and create a glass ceiling for established professionals.

Graeae has spoken publicly about how recent changes to the Department of Work and Pensions’ Access to Work scheme have been affecting how the company operates.

In late 2014, a House of Commons Select Committee found it was failing applicants and made proposals for change. The report can be seen here. At Graeae, we broadly agreed with their findings and therefore read with interest when The Minister for Disabled People released a statement in March 2015 authorising changes based on the committee’s findings.

While we welcome many of the changes laid out in the statement, sadly the proposed package of reform falls far short of expectations and will make it significantly more difficult to govern effectively and meet our charitable objectives.

‘Under the planned changes to Access to Work, Deaf and disabled artists will need to earn nearly twice as much as a non-disabled artist, just to qualify for the scheme on an ongoing basis.’ Amit Sharma, Associate Director

An annual personal budget limit of £40,800 per year will cause major problems for Deaf and disabled people. It will establish a glass ceiling which will prevent professional progression and undermine the value they bring into the workplace.

The new rules for self employed workers do not work with the creative sector. Deaf and disabled people are under-represented on stage and these changes will make it impossible for that to change. Ultimately, it will mean that employers simply won’t employ Deaf and disabled artists due to the risk of not being able to reclaim access costs.

‘After 18 months of campaigning, I am so disappointed that the DWP have still not levelled the playing field for Deaf and disabled people in the workplace. I’m determined to continue the battle to enable people to set their aspirations high and be ambitious.’ Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director and CEO, Graeae 

Download the full press release here.