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Access to Work- don't seem to want to help anyone work!(8 Posts)
My dh has HMS and autonomic dysfunction. He's had a new NHS powerchair that has the right tilt function to mean he can go back to work- we've spent the past four years fighting for help for an adapted house, for right medical treatment, for not being fobbed off by Adult Social services- in fact we took a complaint to ombudsman level regarding them.
We didn't expect such a fight with Access to Work. The originally told him he couldn't do permitted work and get help- CAB told us this was nonsense. He informed AtW he was intending to go back to work, they said he had to call them when he actually was at work, not before. He decided to take the plunge and go full time (he was on ESA support group before), we got tax credits sorted etc, and AtW were still complaining weeks later because on their system he showed as being on ESA still- how is that his fault? Because he was in the support group, the decision to go back to work was his; no help or hindrance from the jobcentre (his doctor does know and she supports him, in fact he's going to ask her to help with AtW). He's never going to get better- his new powerchair changed his life, as did the house being adapted- if he didn't have those things, he couldn't even try working again, it's that simple.
To cut it short, he rang AtW in July..., started work in September and they still haven't actually done anything useful. Or helped in any way.
Apparently they can't adapt workplace premises- because they're new to us (aren't premises new to EVERYONE starting work?). They haven't offered any kind of assessment for anything else- he had an assessment years ago through disabled students allowance and had speech recognition programmes on his computer etc, which were helpful and we assumed AtW would work like that for finding the right support- there's probably loads of stuff he doesn't know about that would help but it seems you have to tell them what you need... AtW didn't like it that he had a wheelchair- the woman didn't seem to understand what nhs wheelchair services actually were. At one point they were telling him he had to purchase everything first, and they'd refund him- because everyone has a few space thousands lying around for equipment, don't they, especially after coming off benefits?!
What are Access to Work actually supposed to do?
They're not actually helping him in any way to work or stay working. He's self-employed (we work together). There's a LOT they could do- but everything is No or they've never heard of it.
It's so frustrating- they're a department supposedly entirely concerned with helping disabled people get into work and stay in work and they don't seem to be able to assist in any way at all!
If he'd been employed, he'd have lost his job by now- no employer would wait months for AtW to mess about!
My spouse has been on leave for several months and is now looking to go back to work. AtW tried the same thing with us at first - "we can't do anything until you're already back at work." They seem to have relented a bit on that now but still seem very reluctant to do anything much, it feels like it's going to be an uphill struggle all the way with them.
Oh bugger, I'm just about to self refer to AtW. I am off sick at the moment and wash oping to sort things out before my return.
I've just written an email to them as I've just got a job that I'm due to start in November. I haven't been on ESA, but I expect I'll get the same thing.
We're fighting it all the way with them- his powerchair has an outstanding amount which AtW said they wouldn't pay because he'd already agreed to it before starting work- he needs it to be able to work though- but previously AtW said they'd only pay for stuff he'd already bought... And the invoice from wheelchair services is dated October. So I'm not sure how they're going to claim he got the chair prior to starting work, when he started in September and was trialling it for an undecided period of time (it's supposed to be DVLA registered because it's road legal, he's not had that paperwork through yet, so technically probably isn't his officially yet).
Doing a formal complaint along with two appeals for the premises adaptations and powerchair payment next week. Ridiculous though, to have to fight to be able to work! The only thing he had no problems with was applying for ESA and DLA- but wanting to work- crazy idea . AtW seem to do a lot of wilfully misunderstanding.
It makes me so angry- the only way to get anything done is to head it as a complaint!
Just want to add to the fury here - BiscuitBee who posted earlier is my wife and today I received a letter that said they would not pay for literally anything, with no reason or anything. rage they know I literally cannot get to my place of work without some input but just don't care.
Just to update- they called dh the other day- to discuss the appeal (no mention of the complaint at all). Had a few extra questions about it. Dh rang back and he didn't get further than explaining that he was no longer on ESA and was now self-employed- fifteen minute conversation trying to make the woman understand he was now working- before he requested that she just email him the questions. She agreed that was a good idea, said she was just about to email him anyway as he'd missed her first call and then she hasn't bothered to do it- she emailed him saying she wanted to speak to him, that was it. So we're none the wiser to what she wanted- it's all in the appeal anyway. He's emailed her back asking for the questions. When she does email back, he's going to ask if she's the one also dealing with the complaint- I think they've 'forgotten' it was sent. I think the whole thing is a stalling method. They must have a timescale for complaints.
They make me so angry- dh wanted me to speak to them on his behalf, but I don't think they'd accept that and to be honest it's probably a good thing- I'm better with angry writing anyway.
And of course, they turned down the appeals.
We can't appeal this decision- even though it's based on nonsense, like dh only used a chair from July this year (no idea where they got that from- it's not true at all- we never said that). It comes down to that they didn't say he needed a powerchair, so they wont pay. Even though they said you have to pay first and they'll reimburse you.
Fortunately he's already told them he's taking the complaint higher as the response to that was not in any way helpful either, but we will deal with them after Christmas as we've both had enough of it.
It's not over until we've won anyway
Worst case we'll make an arrangement to pay in instalments for the chair.
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