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No ‘Proper’ Wheelchair Access At Maximus Glasgow Assessment Centre

January 25, 2016

THE office where disabled Scots are forced to take humiliating fit-for-work tests has no proper wheelchair access, the Record can reveal.

Campaigners have criticised the Department for Work and Pensions and American contractors Maximus for failing to install a permanent ramp at their Cadogan Street premises in Glasgow.

Despite being Scotland’s main base for the hated assessment interviews, wheelchair users have to ring a bell then wait for staff to lay a temporary ramp over steps at the front door.

We watched as Tracy O’Connor, 45, waited in the rain on Friday to get into the building. She said: “I had to ring the buzzer then hope someone would come and help.

“A worker was out quickly enough with the ramp but it was steep and even he admitted as we were going in that it wasn’t a good system.

“I think it’s disgraceful that disabled people are not treated better at this office of all places.”

Maximus run the Tories’ benefits tests to assess whether disabled people are able to return to work.

They were handed a three-year contract worth £500million by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith after French firm Atos resigned.

Marianne Scobie, deputy chief executive of the Glasgow Disability Alliance, said it would be up to lawyers to argue over whether the access at Cadogan Street was legal or not.

She added: “From the point of view of common decency and ethics, it is certainly not acceptable in my view not to have a proper wheelchair access.

“This building has been used to assess disabled people for various things for decades.

“In all that time, you would have thought that they could have a permanent ramp fitted.

“It’s not like it is a listed building or there isn’t ample room on the pavement to build a good entry system.

“When you consider the nature of the work carried out in this building, the least they could do would be to get proper access.

“There is a basic principle that buildings should be made easily and permanently accessible and that isn’t the case here.” Anti-austerity campaigner Sean Clerkin said: “It is disgusting that this firm are treating disabled people like second-class citizens, especially when you consider their work and the huge amounts they make for carrying it out.”

In 2012, it was revealed a quarter of premises where the tests were carried out lacked disabled access.

A Maximus spokesman admitted there had been one instance of a wheelchair not fitting on the ramp but said the DWP manage the building.

The DWP said: “Where an assessment centre isn’t directly accessible from street level, we endeavour to make this clear to people before they arrive for appointments.

“There is a ramp available at our Glasgow assessment centre – if people can’t use this, we will make arrangements to see them at an alternative location.”


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeffery Davies permalink
    January 25, 2016 9:31 am

    Most of these places are dwp jcp buildings were these denial companies work from you bet rent free ops
    swansea also cant do disabled customers theres a laugh customers hay jeff3

  2. January 25, 2016 9:43 am

    It is totally unacceptable for DWP to say they make it clear if access is a problem, and a ramp is available. And for the Glasow office which has been used for years, then proper access should have been installed many years ago

  3. Sarah permalink
    January 25, 2016 11:36 am

    Physical barriers were supposed to have been removed by 2004 under the old DDA1995 Act. The Equality Act unfortunately is not quite so clear, but a steep temporary ramp that might tip many wheelchairs over, or make it difficult for a manual wheelchair user to get up or down independently in a safe manner seems a bit unreasonable in an apparently Government owned building leased to Maximus. I thought there was something in the latter’s contract about making centres more accessible. At least the wheelchair user wasn’t told they were a health and safety and fire risk which has happened when wheelchair users have got into assessment centers on the 1st or higher floors of a building.. How are wheelchair users supposed to know in advance which buildings are accessible? The joke is that the Work Capability Assessment for ESA assumes the modern workplace is accessible.

    The Equality Act states that service providers need to be proactive in thinking ahead, but wheelchair users are too often left stranded outside buildings with bells and intercoms out of reach. I recently tried to go into a major bank in its only branch in a large town. The bell was out of reach and when another customer did eventually manage to get a bank employee out I was told they did not even have a ramp. I was supposed to conduct my business on the main high street in the cold and rain. impossible.
    What did legislation achieve if Government can not even provide reasonable access in 2015 in buildings it has a financial stake in. Taking on the latter under Equality Legislation is probably pointless by an individual even if they had the funds to do so as there would be a loop hole for them to get out.
    I cannot attend a meeting I was invited to by a Public Body tomorrow because of limited access. The so called accessible entrance of the building they are using has no means of communication and the route inside cannot accommodate an average sized wheelchair. I have tried to get into this building before, and was prepared to take an undignified crawl up the main steps but my invitation has been withdrawn! Many wheelchair users can’t crawl so do not even have this unreasonable option when faced with physical barriers, and it tends to start pressure ulcers on those who can.

  4. Jeffery Davies permalink
    January 25, 2016 12:07 pm

    Its a laugh disability laws has I chased rtu ids through my mp on their breach but only got back hes helping us bavk to work sieg hiel aktion t4 carries on without much of a ado jeff3

  5. Liz Gilchrist permalink
    February 24, 2016 8:04 pm

    If they really cared about people then they would have made sure that proper disability access was essential that way no one would have to travel elsewhere I think it has been done intentionally so that people would be scared to attend the assessment due to lack of proper safe access if you don’t turn up then you fail and r automatically taken of the benefit so there is always a reason behind their madness

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