Press release

Drive to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs through Access to Work

Disabled entrepreneurs and small businesses will benefit from more support to pay for specialised equipment and other costs.

Disabled entrepreneurs and small businesses will benefit from more support to pay for specialised equipment and other costs faced by disabled people in work under changes to the Government’s disability employment programme announced today.

The programme, Access to Work, provides financial help towards the extra costs faced by disabled people at work, such as travel costs, specially adapted equipment and support workers.

Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey said:

Work is more than a job - it’s one of the best ways to increase independence, life fulfilment, social engagement and is central to someone’s identity.  And although the disability employment rate has increased over recent years, there is still more we need to do to close the gap with non-disabled people.

That is why we are now making these changes to Access to Work, to widen the scope of those who can benefit from this support, because disabled people aspire to the same jobs as everyone else.

By opening up the Access to Work programme it will give disabled people more opportunities to have the same choice of jobs as everyone else, in every sector from hairdressing to engineering, and at every level.

The changes announced today mean:

  • Businesses with up to 49 employees will no longer pay a contribution towards the extra costs faced by disabled people in work, saving them up to £2,300 per employee who uses the fund;
  • Disabled jobseekers who want to set up their own business through the New Enterprise Allowance will now be eligible for Access to Work funding from day one of receiving Job Seekers Allowance; and
  • Access to Work advisers will be given more flexibility in deciding which equipment is funded through the scheme, offering more choice to disabled people in work.

The Government will also implement a package of measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel, chaired by Mike Adams from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp).  The measures include funding the physical transfer of equipment, introducing a ‘fast-track’ application process where appropriate, and working with employers to find more imaginative solutions to support individuals.  The panel will continue to advise DWP on further reforms to ensure the best use of funding. 

Access to Work has previously been called ‘the Government’s best kept secret’ so to raise awareness of the changes, the Government will expand the marketing campaign - targeting particularly at young disabled people and those with mental health conditions.

The Government has already announced £15m additional funding for Access to Work and the extension of the support to young people taking part in work experience through the Youth Contract.

Last year the programme helped 30,000 disabled people keep or get employment.  Research also shows that around half (45 per cent) of Access to Work customers would be out of work if they did not receive support through the scheme.

Anyone interested in applying for this support, can search ‘Access to Work’ at www.gov.uk/access-to-work/ to find out details of our contact centres. 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Additional measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel that will be implemented include:
    • Applications will be fast-tracked where appropriate, for example where a disabled person already knows the type of support they need;
    • Access to Work will pay for the transfer of equipment so that this support can go with the individual as they move jobs where this is cost-effective;
    • Grassroots disability organisations (Disabled People’s User Led Organisations) will be invited to look at what else can be done to provide one-to-one peer support to disabled people using the Access to Work scheme; and
    • Access to Work advisers working more closely with employers to clarify application processes and provide advice on more imaginative ways to put in-work support in place.
  2. Details can be found at http://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/.
  3. Extending Access to Work to NEA will be trialled in Merseyside from 3 December with a national roll-out planned in the New Year.
  4. Access to Work is a disability employment programme delivered by Jobcentre Plus.
  5. It is different to most other DWP programmes in that it supports disabled people who are in work or about to start work to stay in work **by funding either partially or fully the cost of necessary workplace adjustments that are **above what the Equality Act would define as reasonable for an employer to pay.
  6. The programme provides grants direct to individual disabled people to reimburse them for approved costs, and is very flexible to meet individual needs.
  7. To be eligible for the programme a person must:
    • have a  disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job;
    • have work-related costs because of your disability or health condition;** **
    • Be  16 or over
    • in a paid job
    • unemployed and about to start a job
    • unemployed and about to start a Jobcentre Plus Work Trial; or
    • self-employed.
  8. Types of support that can be provided under the programme include:
    • Special Aids and Equipment
    • Support Workers
    • Travel to Work
    • Travel in Work
    • Communicator Support at Interview

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