I was pleased to find out that on Monday 10th December, Paul Maynard MP for Blackpool and Cleveleys, raised some important questions with the Minister for Disabled People in Parliament. Highlighting some really relevant concerns and directly mentioning the Removing barriers, creating independence report, Paul Maynard asked about the expanse of the Access to Work scheme. This is a Government support scheme which helps disabled people with costs related to paid employment.
Paul Maynard said:
I welcome the Government’s continued commitment to the Access to Work scheme. May I draw the Minister’s attention to the report of the all-party parliamentary group for young disabled people, which I chair? One of its recommendations was that the scheme should be extended to both internships and long-term voluntary work placements. Will the Minister undertake to consider that recommendation?
We were pleased to learn about how the scheme is being improved, and the way in which some of Trailblazers’ recommendations are making a positive impact on policy decisions. Trailblazers were also delighted to hear that the Minister has agreed to discuss this in further detail with Paul Maynard MP.
Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People said:
The policy intent of Access to Work is to support disabled people into paid sustainable work, and as such it is not offered for unpaid internships or voluntary work. However, from 1 October this year Access to Work has been available to young disabled people undertaking work experience under the Youth Contract. I would like to meet my hon. Friend to talk further about this matter.
Concerns with the availability of the scheme were initially exposed in the Trailblazers Right to Work report, the campaign then further developed by asking questions at the APPG session on employment in Parliament which in turn contributed to the APPG report.
Trailblazers voices are being heard on a Parliamentary platform and being considered by key decision makers. This change in policy is not ideal but it is a welcome step in the right direction. To find out more information, or to get involved, contact us here.