Support is available to those in employment with a disability, neurodifferences, health or mental health need. Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments, then Access to Work is available to help cover the financial costs of solutions that go beyond this. Below you can find out everything you need to know about the UK government's Access to Work scheme, including who is eligible, what is available and how to apply.
Who is eligible?
Access to Work is a government scheme with the aim of helping those with additional needs to get and stay in work. Grants are available to:
currently in paid employment, about to return to employment within 6 weeks, or self-employed
those with a physical disability, mental health condition, neurodifferences, hearing impairment, visual impairment.
What can the Access to Work allowance pay for?
Here is a list of some of the support that might be recommended by an Access to Work Assessor:
Assistive technology, training, and workplace coaching
- Special equipment - Software, e.g., you might be recommended Inspiration 10 to support a range of difficulties outlined in this recommendation guide.
Practical support with your work - BSL interpreters, lip speakers or note takers - Adaptations to your vehicle so you can get to work - Taxi fares to work or a support worker if you cannot use public transport - A support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace
Mental health support - A tailored plan to help you get or stay in work - One-to-one sessions with a mental health professional
Communication support for job interviews - You’re deaf or hard of hearing and need a BSL interpreter or lip speaker - You have a physical or mental health condition or learning difficulty and need communication support
Process of applying
This is the general process, however you can also request that your employer pay to use a private company that can support the entire process. If you are self-employed, you act as the employer in this scenario.
1) You can apply for AtW online or by phone. It is worth being prepared to be asked about employer contact information, as well as your National Insurance number and tax reference number if you're self-employed.
2) You will be assigned an advisor who will contact you by phone to discuss your needs. You will be asked to present evidence to support your claim. If you have an SpLD you will need an up-to-date diagnostics report. If you have a physical disability, long term health condition, or suffer from mental health issues then you will need to present a letter from your doctor or consultant.
3) An AtW Assessor will provide a holistic assessment, which takes around 40 minutes. The assessor will ask questions about your strengths, weaknesses and needs, and then make appropriate recommendations of support.
4) A report will be produced and sent to yourself, your AtW Advisor, and your employer. The report will include suggestions for support, as well as details of costs and suppliers. Once agreed with your advisor, an approval letter will be sent to you and your employer.
5) The employer will purchase the solution(s) and claim the approved grant back from AtW. The claim form is included with the approval letter. The maximum grant amount is currently £65,180. The employer will be required to contribute as follows: • 1 to 49 employees: no contribution • 50 to 249 employees: pay the first £500 and 20% of costs up to £10,000 • 250 or more employees: pay the first £1,000 and 20% of costs up to £10,000
Helping users overcome barriers to work
Inspiration is regularly recommended for Access to Work
Inspiration 10 is designed to be used by everyone, but is particularly beneficial for users who:
Have difficulty with short term memory, retaining and processing information.
Get distracted when there is too much text to deal with.
Find it challenging to express ideas in writing.
Struggle with the structure and layout of report writing.
Often have to take extended recovery breaks from working to alleviate symptoms (e.g. mental health difficulties).
Have difficulties organizing ideas and remaining focused long enough to get ideas written down (e.g. Autistic Spectrum Disorder or mental health difficulties).
Find it hard to develop and deliver presentations.
AtW Needs Recommendation Guide: this guide outlines how Inspiration addresses user needs.