Access To…oh forget it.Posted: May 7, 2014
I know I know, I missed Blogging Against Disablism Day. Consider this my late entry.
As regular readers will know, I really want to go back to work. Over the last few weeks and months however my health seems to have had different ideas and my definition of what work I can do keeps getting narrower and narrower. BUT! Being the striver I am, I don’t like to let these things get the better of me and so I’ve been trying to be creative about how I work and what I can do.
Enter stage left: Access To Work! A wonderful government programme that give back £1.48 for every £1 it spends, provides equipment for disabled people to go into work and is generally lovely and marvellous.
Well, kinda. See, I’ve heard really good things about Access To Work. My own personal experience had, so far, been wonderful. I spoke to a nice guy on the phone who took loads of info, another nice chap turned up at the house to talk to me about my needs and what equipment might help me continue working. A chair I could sit on for more than five minutes. A roller-bag for my computer, a wheelie-thing to put resources in so I wouldn’t have to carry stuff. It was all going so well.
And then a letter arrived. Listing all the nice things the nice man had suggested I have so I could keep working. And a nice big price tag to match it.
As I am self-employed, I don’t have an employer to pay for my equipment who can then claim it back from Access To Work. Which means I have to shell out for the equipment myself and then claim it back from Access To Work.
All £967.37 of it.
Spoiler warning: I don’t have £967.37.
So I guess that means, no equipment for me. No nice chair, no bags to carry my stuff. And time to think of another way to try and get myself back to work.
For a government that’s wanting people to work they’re certainly making things difficult. “You’re disabled? Can’t get to work? Why don’t you become self-employed! You can set your own hours! *Disclaimer: You will need somewhere in the region of a grand to do so*”
I’m on benefits, currently. I don’t have that kind of money. One option would be for me to wait until my PIP backpayment comes through (if I get it) then use that to buy the equipment, then claim the money back but I kinda had that earmarked for a mobility scooter. I don’t know how long it’ll take to be refunded by ATW, but I kinda need a scooter and don’t want to be waiting even MORE months to buy an essential piece of mobility equipment.
It’s a dilemma that I shouldn’t have to have. I shouldn’t have to choose between purchasing equipment so I can work and purchasing equipment so I can get around. The two things should not be mutually exclusive.
Let’s put another spin on it. Let’s say I was employed by someone and needed the equipment to start work. Said employer would have to shell out nearly a grand for me before I started working, and then attempt to claim it back. Why then, would an employer choose me to do a job when they could choose an non-disabled person to do it without the extra hassle and cost?
I want to work. And it’s becoming harder and harder for me to do so.