The Access to Work Scheme
Did you know that there is government money available for workplaces to make them disabled friendly? Free money available from the Access to Work Scheme – a government-funded organisation.
Many employers don’t realise they can claim money for workplace adaptations. Big expensive things such as wheelchair ramps, from the government via the Access to Work (ATW) service. And you are likely to get it when you hire people with disabilities. Or maybe you need to adapt the workplace when someone has an illness resulting in permanent disability?
This is especially good news for employers with less than 10 staff who can contact the Access to Work service and receive 100% of the costs of equipment/adjustments.
How Much Can You Claim
There is a scale of free money depending on the size of the business:
- For employers with 10 to 49 staff – the employer will have to pay the first £300 and access to work can then pay up to 80% of the costs up to £10,000 although this is likely to change this year
- Employers with 50 to 249 staff – the employer will have to pay the first £500 and access to work can then pay up to 80% of the costs up to £10,000
- Large employers with 250 or more staff – the employer will have to pay the first £1,000 and access to work can then pay up to 80% of the costs up to £10,000, access to work would normally cover all other costs over £10,000.
There are some items not covered by ATW and this is usually equipment that is a normal part of working e.g. screens, computers.
Great news too if you have new employees as they can claim for Access to Work during the first six weeks of working in a new post and Access to Work will pay 100% of all approved costs.
It’s important that if anyone is in need of help in work, they contact Access to Work as soon as possible. If you have an occupational health service they will work with the employee to make sure that this happens.
Workers will get up to 100% of all approved costs for adaptations if they are:
- Currently unemployed and starting a new job
- Working for an employer and been in the job for less than six weeks
But these figures may change annually.
Help available for people with mental health conditions
- Work focused mental health support tailored to each person
- Assessment of persons needs to find coping strategies
- Personalised support plan, detailing the steps needed to stay in, or return to work
- Advice and guidance to enable employers to fully understand mental health and how they can support employees who have a mental health condition
- Identifying reasonable adjustments within the workplace or within the confines of the working practice
Contacts – How To Claim Access to Work Help
The employee should contact the centres below by telephone, textphone, fax, email or by post. Note that there are no walk-in facilities, these are postal addresses only:
- South East England
- East of England
Jobcentre Plus Access to Work Operational Support Unit Nine Elms Lane London SW95 9BH Telephone: 020 8426 3110 Textphone: 020 8426 3133 Fax: 020 8426 3134
- South West England
- West Midlands
- East Midlands
Jobcentre Plus Access to Work Operational Support Unit Alexandra House 377 Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF5 1WU Telephone: 02920 423 291 Textphone: 02920 644 886 Fax: 02920 423 342
- North West England
- North East England
- Yorkshire and Humberside
Jobcentre Plus Access to Work Operational Support Unit Anniesland JCP Baird Street Glasgow G90 8AN Telephone: 0141 950 5327 Textphone: 0845 6025850 Fax: 0141 950 5265
Northern Ireland Disablement Advisory Service 5th Floor Gloucester House Chichester Street Belfast BT1 4RA Telephone: 02890 252317 Textphone: 02890 252213 Fax: 02890 252330
You can contact your local Jobcentre or Jobcentre Plus office and ask to talk to an access to work adviser or a Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) for advice and an application form.
Access to Work funding is available for up to three years then reviewed again to assess whether the funding continues.
Occupational Health services often refer people to the Access to Work services and responses tend to vary, depending on the type of support/illness and the skills of the particular adviser.
Some examples of help that Access to Work provided are:
- Payment for taxi’s to work
- A reader for the sight impaired
- Assessments for dyslexia
- Voice activated software for computer
- Ramps for wheelchairs
- Communicator for interviews
- A support worker
Many people are eligible for this type of help yet it is not widely publicised. Employers too would be much more interested in meeting the terms of the Equality Act 2010 if they knew that this financial help was available.
Further Reading and Advice
- See also Employees guide to stress
- Wellbeing in the Workplace
- UK Government information and advice for the disabled
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