There is a lot to know when you are a disabled person. There is also a lot to know when you are an employer that employs disabled people. Making sure that you both have a good grasp of what is out there to help can make a big difference to both of you. In life and in work.
There is often support out there that we don’t even know about. And that can be a real shame. Sometimes we are missing out on the exact thing that we could benefit from simply because we don’t know about it. Finding out about these things too late never feels good.
It is this exact reason that lies behind Careers with Disabilities and our content. Helping provide access to information is key in our mission to support disabled employees. When employees know what they are entitled to and employers know what they can provide, life at work gets better for everyone. When we are all on the same page, that is when we can begin to make a real difference.
In this blog, we want to talk about the Access to Work grant. Access to Work is really important for both employees and employers. Not knowing enough about the grant, how it works, who is entitled, and how to get it would be a mistake for both sides. It has a lot to offer, in a few different ways. We want to help you get to know it inside out. That is how everyone will benefit the most from it.
Let’s start with some basic context first.
What is Access to Work?
Access to Work is a government scheme that provides financial support for disabled people in employment. The aim of the scheme is to help disabled people get work and stay in work. This directly addresses the current employment gap in the U.K. between disabled and non-disabled people. Currently, around 52.7% of working-age disabled adults are employed. In comparison, 81% of working-age non-disabled adults are employed.
The three main areas that are covered by Access to Work financial grants include:
- Practical support for working and employment
- Specific mental health disability support
- Communication support for job interviews and work trials
The scheme can also help disabled people move into self-employment or start their own businesses via financial support. The money comes in the form of a grant rather than a loan, meaning it never needs to be paid back and doesn’t affect any of your other entitlements or benefits.
Access to Work is a really worthwhile service that can help disabled people across the country. It helps to make working as a disabled person more achievable and sustainable, and that is a very important mission.
Who Is Entitled to the Access to Work Grant?
To be entitled to receive financial help from Access to Work you must:
- Be over 16
- Live and work in England, Scotland or Wales (more on NI support in the “some exceptions” section of this blog)
- Be disabled in that you have a condition or impairment that affects you on a long-term basis and influences your ability to work and attend recruitment processes
- Be in active employment or be about to start a contract (with confirmation from a company)
- Be self-employed
It is important to note that in all cases, you as the disabled employee must apply to the Access to Work scheme. Your employer can’t apply for you.
To apply, visit this link. The application has different accessibility options if you need them too.
What Kind of Support Can Access to Work Provide?
The Access to Work scheme provides financial support on an individually-reviewed basis. What you get will depend on what kind of support you need to work. The maximum amount of support that can be awarded via grant is currently £65,180.
This money comes in the form of reimbursement, either to you, your employer or to a direct provider. Sometimes you will need to pay for the support first and then claim it back, so make sure that you always keep your receipts and invoices for further down the line.
Some ways the money might be used include:
- Aid and equipment in the workplace for accessibility purposes
- Adaptation of the work environment to meet specific needs
- Travel costs for commuting, especially for taxis if you cannot take public transport or drive
- Communication support at interviews, including BSL interpreters and alternative formats
- Support workers
- Disability awareness training for your colleagues
- To cover the cost of moving equipment if you change location/office/job
- Mental health support services
There is also additional support available aside from financial forms. Especially for mental health conditions, Access to Work can help you with support and guidance. They may assist you in developing a “support plan” that will highlight how you can best be supported at work. There is also direct support for employers. The government team can help employers come up with systems of best care for their employees with advice and guidance.
Unfortunately, there are some exceptions to be aware of when it comes to claiming financial support through Access to Work.
People who cannot make a claim include civil servants and those receiving the following benefits:
- Incapacity benefits
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Income Support
- National Insurance credits
Access to Work is also not applicable to people living in The Channel Islands and The Isle of Man. Northern Ireland has a different service which is similar but under a different authority, check out more information for NI residents here.
What to Do Next
If you want to read more about Access to Work and apply yourself, visit this government page on the topic. You can read a little more about other funding options for disabled employers, here, and grant/benefit options for disabled employees, here, too.
Access to Work has a lot of potential in store for both employee and employer. We would highly recommend making sure you know how the scheme can help you specifically. Even receiving advice and support directly from their team is very worthwhile for everyone. You can never have too much support.
If you are a disabled job seeker looking for a new job, check out our live job board. You can find the right job that will support you with your specific needs.
On the other side, if you are an inclusive employer, take a look at the services we can provide, here. We can help you with a range of ways to support your disabled employees and recruit them in the first place.
Welcome to a new home of inclusivity and support at Careers with Disabilities.