Wednesday, 2 March 2011

DWP Factsheet: Support offered by Jobcentre Plus for customers with additional support and communication needs

Letter to Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment
Dear Mr Grayling

We are most concerned about the information that is being displayed on the DWP site for customers with additional support and communication needs

The Factsheet states that ‘Customers will receive a letter from Jobcentre Plus telling them that their benefit is being reassessed. Jobcentre Plus will then call the customer to discuss how this change will affect them and to answer any questions.’  Adults with autism will need to be offered support and the opportunity to access an advocate/communicator before the phone call takes place.

The Factsheet continues ‘During this telephone call the customer will be asked if they have any additional communications needs.’ Without support an adult with autism may be unable to identify their own communication needs and being unable to identify and label how their disability impacts on their life is one of the problems that adults with autism face. Therefore it is absolutely essential that adults with autism require an advocate/communicator to be present with them when the phone call is made.

We acknowledge the fact that Jobcentre Plus will support a customer’s right to have representation but an adult with autism needs to be aware of this at the first point of contact. Arrangements then need to be put into place to ensure that support is offered in the form of either an independent trained advocate or someone who the person with autism is comfortable with and who they are happy to help them to communicate effectively.

The factsheet continues by giving specific information for customers for whom English is not their first language, customers who are visually impaired and customers with hearing and speech impairments. The factsheet excludes anyone who has a diagnosis of autism which is a recognised communication impairment.

The factsheet is totally inadequate and should be withdrawn until a proper system can be put in place before any contact is made by Jobcentre Plus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If it is known that people on the Autistic spectrum have additional communication needs then how does a phone call asking them if they have additional communication needs help matters? This seems to be completely back to front.

Someone needs to read this again and re-assess the procedures - it is nonsense to have a policy that contradicts itself

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