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RNID website4 March 2010

RNID has confirmed that its benefits casework team is to be axed, despite what it refers to as “some opposition” from inside and outside the organisation.  The move will mean the loss of a unique source of representation for deaf and hard of hearing people who will now have to rely on often inadequate local facilities. 

Benefits and Work revealed last month that RNID was consulting, but only internally, on a proposal to axe the casework team.  (See: RNID to axe benefits casework team).

We understand that staff have now been informed that the proposal is to be implemented in the near future.

The move, and the failure to consult more widely with service users, will leave the RNID open to criticism that it appears to be placing corporate income above the needs of its members.

The loss of the specialist knowledge of the team will also raise question marks about the ability of RNID to ensure that current and future benefits and employment legislation does not discriminate against deaf and hard of hearing claimants and employees.

The introduction of ESA has led to a rapid increase in the need for benefits advice and the current recession leaves all disabled employees at greater risk of  discriminatory redundancy decisions.  Meanwhile, funding cuts are reducing the number of welfare rights workers available in mainstream advice services. 

To close such a highly regarded and uniquely specialist service at this particular point will seem to many people to be verging on the perverse.  It is highly likely that many deaf and hard of hearing claimants will be disadvantaged as a result.

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