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Tories' access to work cap unlawfully discriminates against deaf people, High Court hears

A GOVERNMENT cap on the amount paid to help cover the extra costs of working with a disability unlawfully discriminates against deaf people, the High Court heard today.

Action on Disability chief executive David Buxton uses British sign language as his first language and requires full-time interpretation, historically provided under the access to work (ATW) scheme, to do his job.

When he joined Action on Disability, a “hearing-led organisation,” from a position at the British Deaf Association, Mr Buxton required increased support.

But the Department for Work and Pensions’s £42,100 cap on ATW payments means Mr Buxton could only be supported by an interpreter three days a week.

Earlier this year, the government announced it would raise the annual cap to £57,200 from April — but Mr Buxton requires £67,500 a year.

Sarah Hannett, for Mr Buxton, said ATW has been “a hugely effective means of enabling disabled people to enter into and stay in employment” by “meeting the extra costs of working with a disability, thus levelling the playing field for disabled people.”

But the cap had resulted in deaf employees “missing necessary meetings or training, feeling unable to apply for promotion or to move jobs, and [fearing] disciplinary action being taken against them,” she said.

Ms Hannett said the cap — which will only save around £2 million a year — indirectly discriminates against deaf recipients of ATW.

She added that the government’s decision to raise the level of the cap was a “tacit acknowledgement” that its impact on deaf recipients was “disproportionate.”

The hearing continues.

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