Press release

Record number of people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions using employment support scheme

Record numbers of people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions are being helped into work by the Access to Work scheme.

Department for Work and Pensions

New figures show more than 2,000 people with a learning disability were helped by the initiative in the year to 31 March 2015 with more new awards than ever before. The number of people with mental health conditions using the scheme – which includes the recently-established Mental Health Support Service in Access to Work – has continued to rise and now stands at more than 1,600.

Record numbers of people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions are using Access to Work

Users can receive help with travel to work as well as access to support workers and specialist adaptations to help overcome the challenges they face in the workplace. Their employers will receive financial support with the extra costs associated with employing a disabled person beyond reasonable adjustments expected under the law.

Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said:

It’s great news that more people are taking advantage of the support on offer through the ‘Access to Work’ scheme. These figures show we are making real progress in supporting disabled people to find and stay in employment – delivering on our commitment to halve the disability employment gap.

With almost a quarter of a million more disabled people in work compared to last year it’s clear employers are waking up to the talent that is out there.

To build on the latest growth in user numbers, the government will expand the existing Mental Health/Fluctuating Conditions Team of Access to Work advisers into a Hidden Impairments Specialist Team. This will target support at people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities as well as dyslexia, autism and other less visible disabilities.

Access to Work is a demand led scheme, and the increase in users with a learning disability or mental health condition comes as the overall number of disabled people using the scheme to find or stay in work reaches a 5-year high. In 2014/15 growth continued for the third consecutive year with an additional 1,200 more people supported, taking the total to 36,760.

Since April 2007, Access to Work has helped nearly 124,000 disabled people into employment. Changes to the scheme announced in March this year introduced personal budgets for those who want them as well as enhancing support for disabled people who wish to start their own businesses.

Access to Work is one element of a wide range of support available to disabled people seeking work, including Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentres as well as contracted provision including the Work Programme, Work Choice and, from September, Specialist Employability Support.

Case study

Andrew’s story

Andrew is a self-employed estate manager who has a visual impairment following an accident in the work place, leaving him with severe chemical burns to his eyes.

Access to Work assisted him with his travel to work and within the work place, as he couldn’t undertake this activity independently. Through discussions with his personal adviser, Andrew’s mental health was assessed. His adviser explained that support could be provided by the Mental Health Support Service delivered by Remploy.

Andrew was concerned about this as he was self-employed and did not want the person who he was currently working with to be made aware of his use of the service. The adviser assured Andrew that this was fine and that he could use the service with absolute discretion.

Anything said would remain between Andrew, the adviser and the Vocational Rehabilitation Coach from Remploy.

Andrew’s support commenced and within 2 months the service had changed his life significantly.

His perception has improved vastly. He has gone from wanting to give up work and remain at home to now having a fresh and positive outlook on life thanks to the help and support provided by Access to Work.

More information

Through the Disability Confident campaign the government is working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations. More than 370 UK employers are supporting the campaign, including leading firms such as:

  • Sainsbury’s
  • Barclays
  • BT

The government has previously announced a commitment to halving the disability employment gap.

The free and confidential Mental Health Support Service is available to anyone with a mental health condition who is absent from work or finding work difficult. It is aimed at helping people to remain in, or return to, their role.

Read more about the Access to Work scheme

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Published 24 July 2015