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Reforming Access to Work Motion Passed at TUC Disabled Workers Conference

The MU proposed Motion, moved by member Nigel Braithwaite, aims to improve the Access to Work scheme for more disabled job seekers. 

Published: 24 March 2022 | 1:44 PM
Man standing with back to the camera facing a seated out of focus conference crowd. He is wearing a grey top and has his hands spread as if he is explaining something.
“Over the last 10 years I have become increasingly aware that Access to Work is actually not that accessible". Image credit: Shutterstock.

The TUC Disabled Workers Conference took place online as a virtual even between 22 - 23 March. Member Nigel Braithwaite moved the MU’s Motion ‘Reforming Access to Work’, and this was seconded by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Nigel also seconded an NUJ motion on 'digital accreditation as a reasonable adjustment in sports journalism' on the same day.

Our other delegates included members Ben Lunn, Baluji Shrivastav.

Personal experience

In Nigels speech, he commented:

“Since medical retirement from the Medical Devices world I have thrown myself back into my first loves of playing and teaching the French horn; I rejoined the MU after a gap of a few years. Since rejoining I began to participate in the Union’s disabled members network meetings which led me to believe that disabled musicians get a pretty rough deal, particularly affecting those of us who are self employed.”

“Over the last 10 years I have become increasingly aware that Access to Work is actually not that accessible. In fact it is completely inaccessible unless you have a job; this affects not just job seekers but the self-employed (freelance musicians or anyone working in a gig economy).”

“We believe that the support available through Access to Work is essential for some young disabled musicians to enter the music profession and where disability may occur mid-career, enable others to continue working in the profession”.

You can read the highlights from Nigel’s speech via our Twitter thread below.

Reforming Access to Work Motion

Conference stated to the TUC that:

“While many disabled people have benefited from the [current Access to Work] scheme, it is out of step with the current employment market. Disabled people can only apply for Access to Work once they have secured a job not to help them look for work. This puts disabled job seekers at a huge disadvantage”.

It also added that:

“Self-employed workers face additional barriers securing Access to Work due to the variability of their work and income. Members have reported difficulties securing support for administrative work that is essential to running a business”.

Conference asked the TUC to lobby Government to:

  • Make Access to Work available to disabled job seekers
  • Streamline the application process to tackle waiting times
  • Remove the annual cap 22
  • Be more flexible and responsive in the support offered.


Representing and advocating on behalf of disabled musicians

At the MU we advocate on behalf of disabled and/or neurodivergent musicians to ensure their rights are upheld and strengthened – where they encounter discrimination, we’ll challenge it.  

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