Legal action over Access to Work scheme

Wed,3 December 2014
News Education

Law firm Leigh Day, is taking legal action against The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, on behalf of the campaign group ‘Stop Changes to Access to Work’

The legal challenge concerns the DWP’s lack of guidance and “inconsistent, unlawful and opaque application of its policy” toward the Access to Work scheme (AtW). In particular:

  • Leigh Day challenges the DWP to publish a document, which is not publically available and which details the criteria for AtW eligibility and the rules that will be applied to people’s claims. Leigh Day claim that the lack of publically available guidance on the scheme is unlawful.
  • The letter also describes what it calls the ’30 hour rule’ as an example of the ‘apparently inconsistent, unlawful and opaque’ way in which the AtW scheme has been applied. In June 2011, the guidance was changed so that where a claimant required a support worker for 30 hours or more a week, AtW would fund that support on the basis of an annual salary, rather than an Agency worker employed on an hourly basis.Following concerns raised the Minister announced that the 30-hour rule was under review. As a result, the so-called ’30 hour rule’ (although it was never clearly communicated or published as such) was suspended but those affected continue to wait for any indication as to the future of this rule.

The Government has now got 14 days to respond to the letter before formal legal action is taken in the High Court. It has been asked to publish the current, and any future, guidance (and any other relevant rules or policies) on AtW.

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