Outrage as DWP civil servant gets gong for failing scheme

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Rilesh Jadeja

​Campaigners slam awards system for rewarding failure 

9th January 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Disabled campaigners have expressed outrage after a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) civil servant was awarded an OBE “for services to disability.”

Rilesh Jadeja, one of the key architects of the DWP’s Access to Work (AtW) scheme received the gong in the New Year’s Honours – despite the programme being widely condemned as being unfit for purpose.

Access to Work provides disabled people with funding to pay for some of the extra disability-related expenses they face at work – including travel, personal assistants or the use of BSL interpreters – reducing the costs organisations meet when taking on disabled employees.

But a recent report by the charity Inclusion found “shocking levels of delay, error, and the de-skilling of staff” within AtW were putting deaf and disabled people’s jobs at risk.

The report said “bureaucratic incompetence” and a cost-cutting drive to reduce people’s support packages had made it unfit for purpose. 

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “This award is as farcical as the DWP twitter asking about what DWP has done for claimants over the last 12 months*.

“Given the many serious issues outstanding with cuts to Access to Work funding, which have seriously disadvantaged many disabled people and actively prevented them accessing employment, it can only be described as a further slap in the face.

“It does of course show just how meaningless such awards actually are.”

It does of course show just how meaningless such awards actually are - LInda Burnip

Nicky Evans and Geraldine O’Halloran, from the StopChanges2AtW campaign, said: “SC2AtW strongly condemn the whole system of rewarding someone who has been paid to do a job an additional award which is not based on any achievement, and to make matters worse, under the guise of services to disabled people.

“Services have, under this government, got progressively worse for deaf and disabled people.

“We would have preferred to be saying well done to the DWP for delivering a fully supported Access to Work service to deaf and disabled employees. 

“Instead we have record number of deaf and disabled people experiencing cuts to budgets and this is impacting on their ability to get on with their job. The government continue to ignore our plight.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Honours – like this one given to Mr Jadeja – are awarded to individuals on merit for their own exceptional achievement or service.

“It’s important to note that honours are backed by independent honours committees.”