Disabled people who are looking to enter or stay in the workplace can access up to £66,000 in grant money as part of the government’s Access to Work scheme.
The employment support programme aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work, including the self-employed.
Those with a physical or mental health condition or disability are eligible – and it doesn’t matter how much you earn or which benefits you’re already on, you can still apply.
What is the Access to Work scheme?
It’s a way for disabled people to get practical support to work – this could mean paying for specialist equipment or assistive software, paying for support workers, or paying for travel if you can’t use public transport. (For the latter, you simply need to provide proof of costs like taxi fares.)
The grant can also help pay for adaptations to a vehicle for work purposes or making physical changes to your workplace that would benefit you.
Through the scheme, you can apply for:
- a grant to help pay for practical support with your work
- support with managing your mental health at work
- money to pay for communication support at job interviews.
For people with mental health conditions, the scheme offers assistance to develop a support plan. This includes steps to help you get into work, remain in work or return to work and the reasonable adjustments to make that process as smooth as possible.
It can also help with flexible working arrangements including working from more than one location or working at home full- or part-time.
Who is eligible?
According to the UK government, you can apply for Access to Work if you:
- are normally resident in, and working in, Great Britain
- have a disability or health condition that means you need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do your job
- have a mental health condition and need support in work
- are aged 16 or over
You must also:
- already be doing paid work
- be about to start work or become self-employed
- have an interview for a job
- be about to begin a work trial or start work experience under the Youth Contract arranged through Jobcentre Plus
- You may also get it if you are getting New Enterprise Allowance.
If you can’t work or are retired, the scheme isn’t available.
How much do you get from the grant?
Access to Work is judged on a case-by-case basis and it depends on exactly what you need to be able to get in, and stay in, employment.
The grants are capped and the full list of allowances is on the government website, but anybody that applies between now and 31 March 2024 can access up to £66,000 in grant money.
According to Disability News Service, the government spent more than £180 million on the scheme in 2022-23, which is £30 million more than what was spent in 2021-22.
How is it assessed?
Once you’ve applied for the scheme, a case manager will be in touch to discuss the help available to you and an assessment of your workplace may also be necessary.
The charity Scope suggests it can take up to 12 weeks to get an assessment if you’re already working, whereas those due to start work in the next month are prioritised.
And, according to ADHD UK, you don’t have to be diagnosed with ADHD to get Access to Work support, but it does often help.
It’s worth bearing in mind that there are “significant” waiting times for those awaiting a claim, according to Disability News Service.
In July this year, it said there were over 23,000 disabled people waiting for their claim to be dealt with, and by September this had dropped to just under 22,000.
Earlier in the year, Epilepsy Action warned that delays in the scheme mean people with disabilities are struggling to find and stay in jobs.