21 January 2010

Remploy home pageDisability Alliance’s standing as an independent advocate for disabled claimants has suffered a further blow after the charity announced last week the creation of three new posts to support the ‘government’s return to work agenda’.

Adverts for two benefits advisers and one manager appeared on Disability Alliance’s website. The manager's job description explains:

"You'll be responsible for our new Advice Unit, delivering an exciting new programme to support disabled people with the Government's return to work agenda . . . you should have a thorough understanding of the Return to Work agenda."

Initially, the job ads gave no indication of who was funding the posts.  However, after Benefits and Work sent Disability Alliance a list of questions, the adverts were amended to make it clear that staff will be advising claimants receiving employment services from Remploy.

Remploy are a wholly government funded body sponsored by the DWP.  They traditionally provided sheltered work for disabled people.  However, enormous bitterness and anger was caused by a decision to close 29 Remploy factories in 2007 and concentrate on trying to move disabled claimants into mainstream workplaces.

Remploy is now a major player in the government’s return to work strategy through schemes such as Workstep and Pathways to Work.  Disability Alliance will be providing telephone and email advice on benefits and tax credits to Remploy’s clients and staff.

The government’s return to work agenda includes the compulsory transfer of incapacity benefit claimants to employment and support allowance, the harder to pass work capability assessment and compulsory work-related activities including Pathways to Work interviews.  These are some of the issues that claimants are currently most angry about and it will be hard for them to have faith in a campaigning organisation which is actively promoting that same return to work agenda.

When Citizens Advice took the first steps towards being a Pathways to Work subcontractor, by offering to provide benefits advice to Pathways agencies, there was such an outcry from local bureaux that the plan was hastily dropped.

Sadly, Disability Alliance have no such network of frontline staff to save them from an alliance with the DWP that may destroy the trust of the disabled claimants they were established to serve


Write comments...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.