The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 is the primary legislation in Great Britain intended to overcome disadvantages faced by minority groups in society. This law is binding upon all service providers in both the public and private sector, and there are extensive provisions protecting the interests of disabled people. Despite this, the Work Programme provider Ingeus gives the Act no credence whatsoever, and ignores it with impunity.
One of the most significant Sections of the Act is Section 20, which relates to the need to make “reasonable adjustments.” These adjustments can affect any aspect of an individual’s need to deal with a service provider, including physical features, criteria and practices, and the provision of information. In my own case, Section 20 subsection 3 mandated that adjustments be made for my visual disability. No such adjustments were ever made.
The first six subsections of Section 20 state –
(1) Where this Act imposes a duty to make reasonable adjustments on a person, this section, sections 21 and 22 and the applicable Schedule apply; and for those purposes, a person on whom the duty is imposed is referred to as A.
(2) The duty comprises the following three requirements.
(3) The first requirement is a requirement, where a provision, criterion or practice of A’s puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.
(4) The second requirement is a requirement, where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.
(5) The third requirement is a requirement, where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide the auxiliary aid.
(6) Where the first or third requirement relates to the provision of information, the steps which it is reasonable for A to have to take include steps for ensuring that in the circumstances concerned the information is provided in an accessible format.
I had been referred to an appropriate specialist during the time I had to deal with JobCentre Plus. I was given appropriate training referrals, given specialist advice as to the type of physical help which would be available to me in a job situation, and made aware of everything which was available to provide help in overcoming my medical condition and returning to work.
When my case was referred to Ingeus, they were made aware of the situation immediately through the data feed provided by the DWP. Despite this, they took no action whatsoever to comply with the prevailing legislation, or to provide with anything which could be construed as “help” with my returning to work. Furthermore, they aggravated the situation by deliberately forcing me to attend learning centres where the material was presented on boards at a distance where it was entirely impossible to read the contents. This action was designed to cause humiliation and distress, and blatantly breached the requirement to make “reasonable adjustments.”
The organisation also made no attempt to provide any of the specialist advisory support which is mandated by the Act. The act of placing disabled people with so-called “standard” advisers instead of specialists, in direct contradiction to what happens at JobCentre Plus, is obviously a “criteria” or “practice” which is going to cause a severe disadvantage to those so disabled. In order to comply with Section 20, the organisation would have needed to make adjustments to overcome this disadvantage. No such adjustments were ever made, and the organisation showed bile and contempt every time they were asked to make them.
It goes without saying that a disabled person assigned to an adviser with no knowledge or experience of disability cases is going to be disadvantaged. While the legal requirement is for reasonable adjustments, there is obviously no adjustment possible which will compensate for the lack of specialist help and support from someone trained to deal with your type of case. The Ingeus (UK) organisation must begin complying with the law and following the example set by the Department of Work and Pensions, the government department which outsources work to it in the first place.
Section 26 is also relevant to this case. Subsection 1 of this Section states –
(1) A person (A) harasses another (B) if—
(a) A engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, and
(b) the conduct has the purpose or effect of—
(i) violating B’s dignity, or
(ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.
This could be an exact description of what I went through in May 2013, when I was humiliated and degraded by being forced into a situation where I was expected to learn from boards placed at a distance where I couldn’t possibly see what was written upon them. I was effectively made the laughing stock of the whole exercise, and ended up failing a test so simple a five year old could have passed it while they were still asleep.
Hopefully, anyone reading the content on this site will realise that I am not an entirely illiterate moron. That, however, is what the Ignoramus organisation conspired to reduce me to. As a consequence, I was denied access to further learning opportunities which could have resulted in employment. Obviously, I have a need to be compensated for this humiliation, degradation and debasement, although no amount of money can really compensate an individual for having to live through the type of experiences I had to endure as a result of Ingeus (UK) maltreatment.
Unbelievably, the managers at Ingeus Northampton deliberately and maliciously worsened my situation even further. Not only was I denied access to a trained professional who may have been have to provide appropriate support, I was also deliberately and sadistically held on the case load of the untrained “adviser” who had made this referral, even after the point where I should have been moved to a Year Two adviser.
This torment and intimidation even led to me being forced off the Work Programme and onto Tax Credits at an ongoing loss of £20 a week. Everyone who has to live on unemployment benefit says they cannot manage on it. I have had to manage on £20 a week less for nearly two years. The case has now reached the County Court, although it is a long way from reaching the trial hearing.
My fight to achieve whatever justice is possible, goes on, and it will go on until I either receive fair compensation or die trying. It is more than a human life is worth to tolerate this type of sickening degradation, and I will achieve some form of restitution no matter what the cost and no matter what it takes. The scum who whitewash this type of activity rely on people becoming tired and giving up the fight. When you are subjected to this degree of pain, “give up” cannot even exist.