The newly-appointed Deaf chief executive of a leading disabled people’s organisation has been told the government will only provide him with enough support to pay for interpreters three days every week.
David Buxton, a British Sign Language-user, began his full-time job as chief executive of Action on Disability in London last week, but has immediately been hit by the controversial cap on the Access to Work (AtW) scheme.
The scheme provides disabled people with funding to pay for some of the extra disability-related expenses they face at work, reducing the costs organisations face when taking on disabled employees. The cap was introduced for new AtW claimants in 2015 and is due to affect existing claimants from April 2018.
Campaigners have been warning for the last two years that the cap, which will limit annual AtW awards to one-and-a-half times the average salary, would hit Deaf users of British Sign Language (BSL) hardest, with BSL services accounting for about four-fifths of the highest-value AtW awards.
But they have also warned that the cap will “actively discriminate” against Deaf and disabled people with high support needs in senior positions, like Buxton.
He had previously received enough AtW support to provide BSL interpreters throughout the week when he was a senior manager at the disability charity Scope and was overseeing about 125 staff across the London and south-east region.
His AtW budget at Scope was about £70,000 a year because he needed to book support every day, and sometimes needed a second interpreter for formal meetings. When he left to join the British Deaf Association in 2011, he and four colleagues pooled their support, so there was always a full-time interpreter available in the office, while most of the staff used BSL.