The DWP have information about how you can ask ATW to pay for interpreters etc. for job interviews in BSL and English. (This is called Communication Support at Interview)
Click here to watch this information in BSL (YouTube)
Click here to read the information in English (.gov website)
DeafATW also has more information about applying for Communication Support at Interview that you might find useful.
Click here for more information about how to apply for an interpreter for an interview in BSL (DeafATW update)
Some people who have ATW support, who are currently on furlough, will have to reapply for ATW when they return to work
StopChanges2AtW have found that AtW are closing the cases of some Deaf and disabled people whilst they are furloughed. (Furloughed means off work because of Coronavirus, and being paid through the government scheme). They will then have to reapply for ATW when they return to work.
Click here to read more about this in English and BSL (takes you to StopChanges2AtW website).
Click here to see the information in BSL. (This information in BSL was shared by AtW a week after the English information was shared. This is an improvement).
What are the extra changes?
(1) If you are working from home, and need extra or different support, e.g. remote interpreting, you can ask AtW for this.
(2) If you have health problems that mean you can’t safely use public transport for work at the moment, you can ask AtW for help with transport, e.g. taxis.
(3) If you are anxious about going back to work, and need some support, you can ask AtW for some mental health support. You can get support for up to nine months. (DeafATW asked AtW, and AtW said that you can get support in BSL with an interpreter).
(4) If you had a letter saying that you are “extremely clinically vulnerable” then AtW will sort out your funding more quickly.
Click here to read AtW’s information about these changes in English.
AtW have updated their factsheet for customers to include changes they're making to AtW because of COVID-19. www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-factsheet
These changes are mostly the same as the changes that DeafATW has shared in earlier updates. Please read these updates because I only explain new information in this update.
There are four things useful to say about the update:
1) In the Factsheet there is a section with the heading "If your support needs change". It then says "If the support you need changes, for example because you have started to work from home, you need to tell Access to Work."
This means that you only need to tell AtW you are working at home if your support needs have changed. If your support needs are the same, you don't have to tell AtW.
2) In the Factsheet there is a section with the heading "Assessments". This says that if you apply for AtW and know what support you need, you don't need a workplace assessment.
If you don't know what support you need, an organisation (not AtW) will do the assessment over the phone. Let that organisation know if you need the assessment done in BSL, e.g. through a video interpreting service.
3) In the Factsheet there is a section with the heading "Interpreters". It then says "You need to tell Access to Work if you change the type of support you are using. For example, if you start using an online interpreting service instead of a BSL support worker."
This advice looks different from the information that DeafATW shared in an update before. In this factsheet it seems to say that you should tell AtW if you change to use a remote interpreter instead of a face to face one. DeafATW has checked with ATW, and this means that if you stop using face-to-face interpreters and switch to a remote interpreting service and plan to carry on doing this in the future, then you should tell AtW. But if you are just using a remote interpreter because of Coronavirus, and will carry on using face-to-face interpreters in the future, then you don't need to tell AtW.
4) In the Factsheet there is a section with the heading "Claiming for costs". It then says "If you cannot leave home or ask someone else to post your claim for costs, contact your Access to Work adviser and ask if you can send your claim by email. They will tell you what you need to do. You can also send the email from your employer or your support worker by email."
This means that if you can't post your claim form you should contact your AtW adviser and ask them how you can email your claim form to AtW.
This information has been checked with AtW.
This information has been updated to say that the advice in the earlier AtW update is still correct after the updated customer factsheet was published. (For number 3 above).
AtW are prioritising AtW customers with a job starting in less than 4 weeks, because they have less staff due to Coronavirus
Because AtW have fewer staff, they are trying to do the most urgent things more quickly.
If you have an AtW application in for a new job starting in 4 weeks or less, AtW will try to do this as as a priority.
This information has been checked with AtW.
AtW publishes the guidance that AtW Advisers use when they make decisions about your support.
Click here to see the latest guidance.
It is a long document, but if you download the PDF you can search for things that are relevant to you.
Several deaf people, interpreters and agencies have contacted me about arrangements for AtW, especially about signing claim forms and working remotely, because of government advice about working remotely and self isolating because of COVID-19.
I've asked AtW these questions, and will post answers as soon as I have any.
If you have any questions for AtW about Coronavirus then post them in the comments below this post.
If you want to see information about Coronavirus in BSL, SignHealth have regular updates.
If you are worried that you may have Coronavirus and don't know what to do, you can contact 111 in BSL through InterpreterNOW.
You can now make a new AtW Application, or apply for for your AtW Renewal online.
You can do this online in English, or scroll down the Communication Support for Interview page until you see "British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service". (See screenshot below)
If you use the video relay service (in ATW working hours) you will be connected through a BSL interpreter to an ATW adviser, who will complete the online application with you.
If you have any problems, email SignVideo at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t used this before, then first watch this video that explain how to use the service (in BSL and English). It may look complicated, but isn't really.
Click here to watch the video on YouTube.
DeafATW recommends that at the end of your call with AtW, you ask the AtW call centre or AtW Adviser to send you an email summarising what has been discussed and agreed.
You should also keep notes of the what was said and agreed on the call. This is in case later the AtW Adviser says something different has been agreed.
How to apply to AtW (also useful to think about if asking for an AtW review). Also what you may want ask for or explain.
28th November 2018
BATOD asked me to write an article and guide for deaf school leavers about what is AtW, what AtW can pay for, and how to apply to AtW. As they contain information that may be useful to any deaf people applying for AtW, you can also download them here on DeafATW. The information is useful whether you use BSL and/or English. You can share them with any deaf friends or colleagues that you think may find them useful.
Download "What is AtW?" article here. Remember that it is written for deaf school leavers, so also talks about some things relevant to them, e.g. thinking about future work.
Download "How to apply for AtW" guide here. This takes you step by step through the AtW online application process, but also talks about the things you may want to ask for or explain AtW online or in the paper application, and how to avoid common mistakes. If you see that the online process has changed, please let me know, so that I can update this resource.
7th August 2019
You can now apply for Communication Support for Interviews (CSI) online. You can do this online in English, or scroll down the Communication Support for Interview page until you see "British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service". (See screenshot below)
If you use the video relay service (in ATW working hours) you will be connected through a BSL interpreter to an ATW adviser, who will complete the online application with you. You can also now fill in the claim form in BSL the same way, through an interpreter.
Go to the DeafATW for interviews page for full information about applying for CSI, including:
Or click here to download all the information, including screenshots of the online application process.
13th February 2019
The ATW cap (maximum award / budget) is worked out as 2 x the National Average Salary (NAS). If the National Average Salary goes up, then the ATW cap goes up too.
The old cap from April 2018 to March 2019 was £57,200.
The new cap from April 2019 to March 2020 is £59,200. (This is an increase of just under 3.5%)
Click here to read the DWP press release about this.
Click here to read Graea's statement about this and the impact of the cap on their CEO's work.
Work Place Assessments - Work Place Assessors CAN recommend communication support as well as equipment
24th October 2018
Deaf people have told DeafATW that when they have a Workplace Assessment the assessor has said that they can only make recommendations about equipment, and not about communication support. This is frustrating, as deaf BSL users often only need communication support (face to face and/or remote), and deaf English users may need equipment, but often also need communication support (such as remote speech to text).
But the DWP has said that this is not right, Workplace Assessors can make recommendations about communication support as well as equipment.
However Workplace Assessors can only recommend the number of hours support needed if the AtW Adviser has asked them to do this.
If the Workplace Assessor does recommend a number of hours, it is only a recommendation, and the AtW Adviser may award more, the same, or less hours, depending on their overall assessment of needs.
If you have a Workplace Assessment, and the Assessor tells you either that they can only recommend equipment, or that they can’t recommend communication support, please let DeafATW know, and we can tell AtW.
20th April 2016
NUBSLI made a Freedom of Information request about the pay rates for interpreters and CSWs that they use when working out awards for Deaf people.
The answer was that AtW "does not have set pay rates for BSL/English interpreting and CSW support for Deaf and deafblind people.
Access to Work advisers, in discussion with the customer would establish both the level and type of support required and source this from within the area where they are working and do so on the best value for money basis."
So if an AtW adviser tells you that the award is based on a fee that you know is too low for your area, you can challenge them, and show them the DWP's answer to the FoI request. They should be allowing you to send in questes so you can show what the market rate is for your area.
Click here to read the full NUBSLI post.
When AtW make awards, either Advisers or after a Reconsideration, ask them to EXPLAIN their decisions
18th March 2016
If AtW make a decision that doesn't make sense to you, then ask them to explain how they made the decision. If they still don't explain, ask again, and again, and again (!), until they do.
Questions you can ask them include:
AtW advisers can make choices in what they decide, but they have to have a reason for those choices, they can't just make things up, or make decisions with no reason. Because they are a public service decision maker they are obliged (have to) tell you their reasons for their decisions.
If the AtW adviser doesn't answer your question, or says that you have to do something, then just write back and ask them again. And again. Etc.
If they refuse, or ignore you, then you should complain to AtW.
Read "Never give up - An AtW success story" below about how this can work.
18th March 2016
Sometimes it can feel really hard to sort things out with AtW. Especially if it feels like AtW won't listen to you.
This is a true story (I have changed some of the details to keep it anonymous) of someone who didn't give up, and got what they need in the end.
Hannah is a BSL user who works with hearing children. She applied to AtW and said she needed 22 hours CSW support.
At first, AtW said that the CSW would be doing Hannah’s job for her, so AtW would not support her. Hannah asked the AtW adviser how the CSW would be doing her job instead of her, but the adviser never answered that question.
The adviser wouldn't change the decision, so Hannah asked AtW to reconsider the decision. The reconsideration decision said that they agreed with the adviser's decision, and would not change it.
So Hannah made a complaint to AtW, because they had not explained how the CSW would be doing her job, but they did not reply for 4 months. She chased them 5 times, but they still didn't investigate her complaint. So she wrote to her MP. Her MP chased AtW, and they said they would investigate her complaint that week. They still didn't. So Hannah complained to the PHSO.
The PHSO agreed with Hannah that AtW had got it wrong. They asked AtW to go back and make the decision again.
This time, the AtW adviser decided that Hannah only needed 10 hours’ support a week, even though she had said 22 hours was what she needed to be able to do her job.
Hannah asked the AtW adviser to explain how they decided 10 hours would be enough. The adviser did not not explain this, but asked Hannah for more information.
Hannah gave the adviser the information they asked for, and also asked the adviser to explained how they had reached the view that this support would meet her minimum needs. The adviser didn't answer the question, and said that Hannah needed to explain why she needed 22 hours.
Hannah wrote back and asked the adviser again to explained how they had reached the view that this support would meet her minimum needs. The adviser again replied, and didn't answer the question. This carried on for two months, Hannah just writing back and asking them the same question, and explaining that the adviser did need to answer the question about how they had made their decision.
Hannah really felt like giving up, but she didn't.
Then after 2 months, the AtW adviser wrote to Hannah and said they agreed to give her the 22 hours she had asked for. Success at last.
The important thing Hannah did was not to give up, or get cross, even when she was very frustrated and fed up. AtW had not explained why they thought 10 hours was enough, so Hannah made sure she kept repeating that question. Because AtW could not explain their decision, they agreed to her request.
So if you feel like giving up, remember this story. It may take time, and patience, but you can get there in the end.
18th March 2016
AtW guidance at the moment says that if you have help from friends and family with interpreting, for example. supporting you with communication if you are self-employed, then AtW can say no to helping you, because you already have communication support.
But really deadweight was meant to stop employers who are already paying for interpreters (etc) from deciding not to pay and asking AtW to start paying instead.
DWP have realised that this was a mistake (thanks) and have changed this.
So from the 1st April 2016, ‘deadweight’ rules will be changed to say that it doesn't matter if you have had support from relatives or friends.
If you have a problem with this, please contact DeafATW, and we will send you more information.
Updates have been moved to this Blog, so that you can search by categories.