In a five-part series of articles devoted to the Access To Work scheme, Allana shares her experience of the whole process. From the initial online application to getting the support equipment, Allana explores if the Access to Work is accessible for its applicants.
The Follow Up Phone call
Monday’s feeling of optimism remains with me as the next part of the Access To Work process gets off to a positive start. I receive a follow up call from an advisor well within the stated time frame of three to five working days. Surely, in the words of 80’s pop icons YAZ, the only way is up?
These sentiments seem to be borne out as the advisor explains what lies ahead. I have to email over further details concerning my claim, after which, I will be contacted by a partner organisation to arrange a face-to-face workplace assessment.
Anxious to get as much done as possible in the time available to me, – I start at DNDP already on the 21st. Realising that the Easter holidays could potentially delay the process, I readily agree to complete the advisor’s questions by lunchtime of the following day.
I waste no time getting started. The list is the length of my arm! Ok, ok! Someone else’s arm; like the rest of me, mine are quite short, but you get the point? Three things occur to me as I plough through:
- I have already answered many of these questions in the online form. Using this facility was utterly pointless, and in fact has only lengthened a historically cumbersome process.
- Certain questions are unanswerable and seem irrelevant to my application. I don’t have company staffing numbers at my disposal for example.
- Why will access to work not proceed with an application until the claimant confirms they are no longer receiving DWP benefits? Surely confirmation of your new position should be enough? It feels as if the onus is on you to prove that you are not trying to cheat the system.
Despite being slightly perturbed by the volume of information required, I submit my answers. I am hopeful that the official wheels will really start turning now.
Famous Last Words
However, events take a decided downward turn when I speak with the advisor again a week later to finalise the referral for the workplace assessment. I take this opportunity to request that support with travel costs be included in my application as I now know that I will be attending meetings at DNDP’s offices. Who could have imagined the stress that this simple change would cause?
Yet more questions, a medical letter to be signed by my doctor, and ringing round for taxi quotes, are just a few of the items on the resultant list to complete by the following Tuesday. The much feared bureaucracy is finally taking hold and I am being hemmed in by that dreaded red tape!
Please don’t misunderstand me? I am not criticising the ATW advisor in any way; she could not have been more accommodating. Neither am I in the slightest work shy. I will do everything I possibly can to speed this process up. I am however nervous enough at the prospect of starting my new job without the unwanted distraction of having to jump through all these metaphorical hoops.
The impractical and inaccessible nature of this part of the process for its applicants also strikes me. I am very grateful to have a supportive partner who gives me sighted assistance when I need it, but it still begs the question, what happens for those applicants who do not have this luxury?
Frustration notwithstanding, I tick off all but one item on the list by the deadline. Having taken my medical letter to my doctor’s surgery for signing, I am met with an administrative brick wall. After two weeks of anguished phone calls, much pleading and cajoling, I have become very well acquainted with the phrase “at the doctor’s discretion”. I need a simple signature, but it seems I would have more luck locating Shergar and Lord Lucan. Words can’t describe the disbelief I feel at my application being derailed for the want of medical confirmation of my blindness!
In short, the follow up to my online application has by turns proven time consuming, frustrating and fruitless. 80’s pop icons have it all wrong: The only way is up, and then straight back down again!
Next week Allana will discuss the ATW face-to-face assessment. To talk to DNDP about employment opportunities or to support disabled workers by adding a socially driven courier into your supply chain, click ‘Chat Now’ or call us on 01355 813400.
To read more about Allana’s experience with Access To Work, read her previous blog.