Access to Work’s threat to woman’s two decades in work


A disabled woman could be forced to quit her job of nearly 20 years because the government’s Access to Work (AtW) scheme has threatened to stop paying for taxis she needs to get to work.

Pauline McGuigan, from Dunbartonshire, works three days a week for a large insurance company and uses AtW funding to pay for her daily taxi journeys to and from work.

Although she has a car she leases through the Motability scheme, she cannot access it in her power-chair, and she has no-one who can drive her to work and collect her at the end of the day.

She doesn’t drive herself because she has no use of her legs and limited use of her arms.

McGuigan’s Motability lease does not expire for another two years, but now AtW has told her it plans to withdraw her £90-a-day funding for taxis – she contributes £5 a day herself – because she has a Motability car and should use that instead.

It is just the latest report to emerge of disabled people who rely on AtW funding to pay for disability-related adjustments at work, but whose packages have suddenly been cut, putting their jobs and careers at risk.

Only last week, a leading self-advocacy campaigner told peers that he believed the government had secretly introduced a new policy that meant people with learning difficulties were having their AtW packages cut to just 20 per cent of their previous levels.

And research by disability organisations, reported in February by Disability News Service, found that nearly all the disabled people whose AtW entitlement had been reviewed were having their support cut.

Earlier this month, McGuigan received an unexpected call from AtW, telling her that because she had a Motability car, she would have to use that to get to and from work.

She said: “I was completely shocked and horrified to hear this and I explained again that I had always had a Motability car and that I cannot drive and no-one is free to drive me to and from work.”

She also told AtW that she cannot employ a personal assistant to drive her to and from work, because there is no safe way to load her power-chair and herself into her car.

McGuigan said: “I suggested that the support is extended until I change my car in two years, when I will get a wheelchair accessible one. He declined this request.”

She said she made it clear to AtW that her car cannot be adapted to be wheelchair-accessible, and that she needs to use a power-chair at work.

She said: “I became extremely distressed during this call and stressed that if I have no transport I cannot work.

“I explained that I have worked for the same company for almost 20 years and they have always been very supportive, arranged many things to support me in my daily role, and I am considered an asset to the company.

“He basically dismissed this and said the rules were the rules and my funding would stop.”

McGuigan added: “I find it disgusting and frankly ridiculous that when the government have always stressed the importance to disabled people’s welfare and the economy of keeping us in work that they impose cuts which will result in the opposite. 

“It is common knowledge that from a financial point of view it costs more to support unemployed disabled people than to keep them working and contributing to the nation.

“Those of us who really want to work to retain some feeling of worth and social inclusion are being discriminated against and forced onto the scrap heap.”

AtW has now postponed the date for removing her funding by a further month, while it reconsiders its decision.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “We have offered Ms McGuigan help to adapt her existing vehicle or to provide an assistance driver so that she can get to work, but she has declined this support.”

DWP said that if she can prove her car cannot be adapted to take her power-chair, through an assessment by a Motability dealer, the decision will be reconsidered “on that basis”, but it believes that “most cars can be adapted to meet the needs of the individual”.

But McGuigan said that a dealership – and Motability – had already confirmed that her car could not be converted to allow her to travel in her power-chair, and that AtW had at no point asked her to provide such proof.

She added: “I have not declined the support they offered but advised them that it is not a solution for the reasons mentioned, and also that support drivers are not able or insured to lift me from the wheelchair to my car and vice versa. 

“They seem completely unable to grasp any of this.”

Although Motability has suggested that McGuigan might be able to hand the car back early, with no financial penalty, she said it has warned her that it can provide no guarantee that it will be able to provide the necessary charitable contribution that would allow her to lease a much more expensive wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

Even if such a grant is possible, there will be a delay of several months in arranging the new vehicle, she has been told.

Picture: Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, handing over the keys to a Motability vehicle to a constituent (not Pauline McGuigan)

  • User Ratings (4 Votes)
  • It sounds as if Access to Work should ask Motability, via a letter to Pauline McGuigan, to confirm the situation regarding the impossibility of converting her vehicle to enable her to travel in her power chair and their inability to guarantee grant funding for a WAV should she end her lease early. What this case says to me is that AtW advisers don’t have nearly enough training or understanding of disability issues – there’s a surprise!!

    • Msw3681 sw

      Dear me, read the article properly, unless you have reading comprehension issues. She cannot drive herself because she does not have the strength in her arms. She needs a driver for the car, so adapting the car is pointless. She has no one to drive her to work either, hence why she has taxi’s in the week to work.

  • It explains in the story why this is not possible. She is a powerchair user and needs that at work. Her car is not wheelchair-accessible.

    • Lynne Hutchinson

      Oh, I see. Sorry,…,total brain fog this morning.
      Don’t quite understand the point of spending DLA on a car you can’t really use, as you can’t get out of it at the other end of your trip? Wouldn’t it have made far more sense to apply for a grant towards an adapted car to start with? Or have I managed to miss the point there too?

      • Msw3681 sw

        She has someone drive her around when not at work, e.g. evenings and weekend.

  • Wheel-Chair User

    If she has had a Motability car for some years, why has she not got a wheelchair accessible one already and drive herself to and from work? Personally, I think she has been lucky to have had the taxi fares paid for her for so long! If she is getting full rate Motability on top of her wage, there is no reason at al that she could not have saved and got a WAV for her own needs. Some disabled people need to realise that there is not a bottomless pit of money coming from the Government and personally, I think she is just taking the proverbial …….

    • Please read the story. She is not able to drive because of her impairment. The DLA/PIP she receives is for the extra costs of her impairment. It’s not a ‘bonus’ payment for being disabled that she can put into a savings account. Also, she only works part-time, three days a week. Perhaps you need to acquaint yourself with the cost of a WAV before criticising her…

      • Wheel-Chair User

        My user name says it all. I am fully aware of the costs of WAV’s, as well as the adaptions needed for those of us without legs (or the use of legs) ….. As I’ve said, she should sort out her own transport as the rest of us have to. DLA/PIP is to cover any extra help or facilities needed – like payments to modify cars, taxi fares, carers and so on. That is what my DLA goes on. I have to save as much as I can in order to pay for the adaptions I need when I change my Motability car (every 5 years). No wonder the country think all of us on disability benefits are shirking when people like her are draining the system dry. Being born without legs is a sure way to get used to being independent and finding ways to get to work and back under my own steam, without taking a penny more than I need.

        • I still think you’re wrong, and your comments do nothing to support disabled people in employment. But of course you are entitled to your opinion

          • Wheel-Chair User

            In what way am I “wrong”? I am stating hard facts – ones which, as a disabled person who is in full time employment I have to put into action in order for me to go to work. They work just fine for me and since the lady in question is standing up in the picture, she clearly has some use of her legs, even if she cannot stand or walk far. I on the other hand (or should that be leg) do not. I am not out to discredit the disabled – but I fail to see how someone sucking off more money than is NECESSARY can help any of us. After all – all those of us on benefits are the subject of ridicule and spiteful accusations by the DWP, as well as society in general – and this lady certainly does not help our side in any shape or form. She appears to want it all her own way, rather than compromising and adapting her mode of transport etc. I am sure all the rest of us who work wouldn’t mind an “extra” £90 a week to spend on travel to work and back. That would more than cover my fuel costs and parking permit! Anyway, since you have your mind set I can see there is little point in continuing with this discussion. My thoughts and opinions are entirely my own, as are yours – but suggesting this lady should continue to receive “extra” money in the form of taxi fares does not do a thing to give a positive outlook of disabled people. It simply reiterates society’s opinion that we are all sucking the country dry, while hand-wringing about how hard done by we are ….

          • Again,you haven’t read the story. That’s not her in the picture. Please read the caption: it’s the minister for disabled people handing over the keys to one of his constituents. Pauline McGuigan’s impairment is as described in the story…

          • Msw3681 sw

            Seriously, sort out your reading comprehension issues.

        • Msw3681 sw

          I find your comments insulting. Go troll somewhere else. You have no idea about this women, yet you feel the need to judge her. Shame on you. Take your vile tory propaganda somewhere else.

  • Linda E

    If her mobility car is unsuitable for her needs she can change it she does not have to wait till the 3 year contract is up all thought there will be a £100 administration charge if she does

    • Msw3681 sw

      Linda, have you actually read the report. It says clearly she cannot use her legs and not much power in her hands. She has to have a driver evenings and weekends for her car, and needs it to shop and get around with help, when shopping………

  • bandaid.2

    Wheel-Chair user obviously has not read the report properly. She has stated clearly that she cannot drive herself as she has lost the power in her legs & has limited use of her hands.I would of thought that under such circumstances, she should be able to return the car to Mobility without penalty & continue to have a suitability taxi paid for by either DWP or Social Services.T his existing government under Cameron need their ass kicked in every way particularly in by-elections, causing them to make their majority cut so that it becomes unworkable & forcing a General Election. Aneurin Bevin must be turning in his grave. Listening to the news over the last few weeks, Cameron is like the “mask of Janus*-2-faced.In fact, with this attitude, the government, might just as well act like the Nazis did; open some extermination camps & kill off all the disabled people. It`s a great pity his son didn`t survive & he might of had a lot more understanding & a hell of a lot more compassion towards us disabled people. I would love to address Parliament & tell them exactly what I think as all 3 of us in our household have varying degrees of disability.