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From January 2021 to January 2022 annual CPIH* is 4.9%. This means many support workers (interpreters, speech to text, lipspeakers), etc. are having to put up their fees.
(1) This may mean that you need to increase your ATW award. (If you have a capped award you can't increase it).
(2) If you have enough budget, you may just need to increase the amount you can pay support workers each hour.
(3) Or you may need to ask to increase your award and hourly rate.
If you have this problem then you need to get three new quotes, showing the new rates, and make a 'change of circumstances' request, sending the three quotes as evidence of the increase in fees.
Let DeafATW know if this works for you, or you have problem with this.
*CPIH = Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ Housing costs
DeafATW, NUBSLI and RNID (and maybe other organisations) have all written to the DWP about the delay to renewals (see original post below).
ATW has said that to solve this problem and deal with renewals more quickly they have introduced a new ‘light touch’ renewal process.
DeafATW has now had feedback from some deaf people that, although they were told they would have to wait 12 to 16 weeks for their renewal, their award has in fact been agreed very quickly.
From feedback it looks like this new ‘light touch’ process means people’s awards are being approved as they are now. This is really good if it helps ATW approve renewals faster, but there may be some problems.
(1) If your award is capped, make sure that you check your award is renewed at the maximum for this year (£62,900 before 31/3/22, or the new maximum if your award is renewed from 1/4/22).
(2) If you need to increase your budget or hourly rate, e.g., because interpreter fees are going up in line with inflation, you may need to make a change of circumstances request. (More information in this update).
Please let DeafATW know what happens with your renewal application, and if you have any problems.
If you want to be kept up to date with information about this issue, please sign up for updates from DeafATW.
Original post 3/9/22:
DeafATW is being contacted by people who are having problems with renewing their ATW award. This problem seemed to start about November 2021.
People have been told different things, but the email DeafATW saw says that “current wait times to be allocated to an adviser is around 16 weeks from date of application but any award will be back-dated so there will be no gap in support.”
There are two problems with this:
1) Most interpreters (and other support workers) can’t afford to work without being paid for many weeks or months. Interpreters may also be unwilling to take the risk of doing this work and not being paid in the end if something goes wrong.
2) When you ask interpreters (etc.) to work, the contract is between you and the interpreters, not ATW and the interpreters.
This means that if you ask interpreters to carry on working after your award, and ATW does not renew your award, or reduces it, you will be personally responsible for paying the interpreters for their work with you. (If your award is agreed, then you won’t have to pay anything, but you can’t know for sure that it will be agreed, even if it is likely to be.).
When AtW review your AtW Award and budget they look at how you have used your AtW budget for the past year.
If you are self-employed, this means they also look at your turnover for the last year.
However, COVID-19 and the lockdown have affected many self-employed people's work and turnover, and AtW know this. So when self-employed people have their next review, the impact of any COVID-19 related downturn will be ignored.
Similarly, the lockdown has affected many employed people, e.g. working from home, using more remote interpreting, working fewer hours, not working at all (being furloughed). AtW understand this, and you can expect that your AtW Award won't change or be cut just because of the impact of COVID-19. (It may still need to change for other reasons, e.g. if the way you work has permanently changed).
This information has been checked with AtW.
If there are any other changes, DeafATW will post them here and share them with the DeafATW mailing list. At the moment, DeafATW have not been told of any other changes.
AtW have told DeafAtW that if you need to renew your AtW, and you have no change in circumstances (no change in your job, or what communication support you need, etc.), then you should apply online the same way as normal. AtW will then automatically add six months to your current award. For example, if your award finishes 30th May 2020, and you apply for renewal, your award will be automatically extended six months to 30th November 2020.
If you prefer to use BSL to apply for renewal, you can. Go the .gov AtW renewal page, and look down the page until you see "British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service" (see picture below), then click on the "go to video relay service" link.
If you need to renew and you have a change in circumstances (e.g. you have new things you have to do for work, or want to change the communication support you need, etc.) then AtW will first check if you are a Key Worker (e.g. you work in the NHS). If you are a Key Worker AtW will try to sort out your renewal as a priority. If you aren't a Key Worker, then AtW will sort out your reconsideration and change of circumstances request as soon as they can.
This information has been checked with AtW.
Originally the extension to the award was for three months, but is now for six months. AtW have also said they will prioritise (try to to deal with as quickly as possible) Key Worker Renewal requests when there is also a change in circumstances. This update has been changed to reflect this information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ask for additional hours (face to face interpreting, etc.) or minutes (remote interpreting) to use when needed
18th March 2016
Some people have enough AtW support for most of the time, but for some months find they don't have enough hours for face to face interpreting, or enough minutes for remote interpreting (e.g. SignVideo).
This may be because they have extra training at work one month, or have a lot of calls to make, etc.
To help with this, some people have told DeafATW that they have agreed additional (extra) hours (face to face) or minutes (VRI / VRS) to be used when needed, on top of their monthly allowance. For example, an extra 50 hours of interpreting for the year to be used when needed, or an extra 120 minutes VRS/VRI.
This can make things easier for you, and for AtW, because you don't have to keep asking for extra support.
Let DeafATW know if you are able to agree this, or if you have problems.
Updates have been moved to this Blog, so that you can search by categories.