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Public Statement - Couple Found Guilty of misusing Access to Work funds

8 June 2015

The British Deaf Association (BDA) is appalled at news (see article online - click here) of two interpreters found guilty of misusing public funds to fund their own lifestyle. As with any fraud the BDA strongly condemns this action and it's regretting that few tarnish the majority. Sign language interpreters are highly skilled and offer the Deaf community the means by which they can achieve their potential in employment. We are aware and have seen how Access to Work enables real successes, promotes a positive economy, increases employment opportunities and empowers wider society to benefit from Deaf and disabled workers' contributions to make for a more inclusive society.

The much needed Access to Work scheme has been open to interpretation for some time and the BDA has made various representations to the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) regarding the potential abuse of the scheme and public money.

David Buxton, Director of Campaigns and Communications, said: "The BDA is dismayed of the impact this has on genuine claims Deaf people make as part of Access to Work. We are still working closely with DWP to tackle issues and find positive ways of securing a fairer Access to Work programme without further fraudulent activity. The BDA has consistently advocated for an independent statutory register of BSL/English interpreters. This is right time for the BDA to persuade the Government to support this important initiative to protect both Deaf users and BSL/English interpreters and promote and protect the profession in the same way as done with doctors, nurses, solicitors and teachers. The BDA also recommends that agencies are also to be regulated to safeguard the best interests of all people using Access to Work, banishing any fraud and the use of unqualified professionals to retain the reputation of their customers."

We stand united with the interpreting community to raise the standards, enable a better quality of life and a fairer employment environment. We strongly believe that neither the Deaf or interpreting communities should be penalised for two bad examples.

The BDA urges the Minister of Disabled people to work with the BDA and the Deaf community to ensure that users of the Access to Work Scheme receive appropriate training in the use of their personal allocation in order to prevent situations like this occurring again.