To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on what date was the requirement for disabled people to contribute towards the cost of their wheelchairs as part of the access to work scheme introduced; how many disabled people have had to contribute towards the cost of their wheelchair since the introduction of that policy; and whether an equality impact assessment was undertaken before the introduction of that policy.
Access to Work grants are provided solely on the basis of addressing extra disability related costs of working, beyond those which employers have a statutory duty to meet as ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010.
Access to Work launched in 1994. It is a longstanding practice of the scheme that where there is a ‘social and domestic’ benefit from a piece of equipment funded by the scheme, there must be a proportionate contribution from the individual.
The purpose of this is two-fold: to ensure equity between working disabled people and non-working disabled people who would not have Access to Work funded equipment that they could also use outside of work and to keep the scheme within its legislative vires.
Data regarding the number of customers who have had a ‘Social and Domestic’ contribution applied to an award covering a wheelchair are not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
The Access to Work guidance is subject to constant review. When DWP officials became aware that, in some instances, the ‘Social and Domestic’ contribution had not being applied to awards, a guidance update was issued to clarify the importance of the ‘Social and Domestic’ contribution and ensure that staff would apply it where appropriate. As this is a neither a new policy, nor a significant alteration to an existing policy, a separate equality analysis was not deemed necessary.