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Access to Work

Access to Work is a national programme delivered by Jobcentre Plus.  It was introduced in June 1994 and aims to assist disabled people who are in paid employment or with a job to start. It gives practical support helping to meet additional costs associated with overcoming work related obstacles resulting from disability. You can visit the employers Access to Work site by clicking on this link.

The programme provides a grant towards these additional employment costs.

Access to Work is a flexible programme driven by the needs of the individual client. It seeks to deliver high quality, cost effective and well managed support. The flexibilities within the programme allow a wide range of solutions to a client’s needs because of disability.

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Access to Work helps the Government achieve its key objectives to:

•    Encourage greater independence;
•    Provide work for those who can; and
•    Promote work as being the best route to inclusion for disabled people.

Access to Work helps disabled customers by:

•    Providing support to overcome work-related obstacles resulting from

•    Enabling disabled customers to work on a more equal basis with their non-disabled colleagues;

•    Encouraging employers to recruit and retain disabled people by offering practical help.

To be eligible for help, a customer must:

•    Have a disability or health condition as defined under the Equality Act 2010 that affects their ability to carry out their job;
•    Be over 16 years old;
•    Be in, or about to start, paid employment (including self-employment);
•    Live and work in Great Britain; and
•    Not be claiming Incapacity Benefit once they are in work. (With the exception of Permitted Work)

There are five main elements of support through Access to Work, these being: -

•    Communication Support at Interview, A grant for an interpreter or other human support  at job interview for someone who has difficulties in communicating with others

•    Special Aids and Equipment, Provides grants towards aids and equipment in the workplace which are needed as a direct result of disability.

•    Support Worker, Provides human support in the workplace (such as
BSL Interpreter) to allow the person to access their work environment.

•    Travel to Work, Provides a grant towards the extra costs of travel to and from work where a person cannot use available public transport as a result of their disability or health condition, or helps with adaptations to vehicles.

•    Travel in Work, Provides a grant towards the extra cost of travel incurred whilst at work where a person cannot use available public transport as a result of their disability or health condition or helps with adaptations to vehicles.



Click here to download the Employers Guide to Access to Work

What is the Access to Work (AtW) Scheme?

Access to Work is a scheme run by Jobcentre Plus to provide advice and practical support to disabled people and their employers to help overcome work-related obstacles resulting from a disability (as defined by the Equality Act 2010). Where the needs of disabled staff have been assessed and approved through the Access to Work scheme, Jobcentre Plus can make recommendations for:

•    Equipment and/or alterations to equipment to meet the particular needs of the disabled   person;
•    Alterations to premises or to the working environment;
•    A communicator for deaf and hearing impaired people, either for a job interview, or in the course of their work;
•    Part-time readers or an assistant at work if a person is blind or visually impaired;
•    A support worker if an individual needs help either at work or getting to work;
•    Adaptations to a car if the disabled person cannot use public transport to get to work.

Before an individual applies for an Access to Work assessment they will need to consider whether they meet the definition of disability (Equality Act 2010) which is:

“A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

As with all disabilities, the effect on each individual will be different depending on the nature and severity of the impairment. There are many people with disabilities who do not need adjustments and often, when they are required, the adjustments cost little or nothing. The person and the line manager should discuss the effects of the disability and what would help them carry out their work.

Information on reasonable adjustments can be found on the following link:

What do the Access to Work Operational Support Units do?
Access to Work Operational Support Units will take the initial application, usually over the telephone from the member of staff and provide a dedicated Access to Work Adviser who will take the application forward.  


How to make an Access to Work application?
Applications for an assessment should be made directly to the Access to Work Operational Support Unit. This can be done by telephone, textphone, email or by post.  The contact details below indicate which areas they cover:


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


Who should make the initial enquiry?
The applicant or line manager can make an initial enquiry to the relevant centre. Due to the confidentiality of the matter however, the Access to Work Operational Support Unit prefers that the disabled member of staff makes the initial approach. A completed application form using information obtained from the member of staff will then be sent to the individual for checking and signing and should be returned to the relevant Operational Support Unit. Once initial approval has been granted, the Access to Work adviser will arrange a full workplace assessment if required. The applicant’s job, and the effects of the disability on doing their job, will need to be assessed. However, should the application for an Access to Work assessment be declined, the individual or line manager are advised to contact their local HR or Diversity Team for advice.  Please note that an individual would have to declare that they have a disability to the Access to Work Operational Support Unit.  Failure to do so will mean that the Unit will not follow the call through.

What happens once the form is sent off?
An Access to Work Adviser will contact the individual to discuss their role, their disability and how it impacts on their work. If the adviser feels it appropriate a workplace assessment can be arranged which will be carried out by one of Access to Work’s contracted assessors.  The assessors all have their specialisms relating to particular disabilities in order that expert advice and recommendations are made.

What happens after the Access to Work visit?
The assessor will send the AtW adviser a written report which will provide all the recommendations, which may include equipment or training, e.g. dyslexia training/coaching, assistive technology (e.g. dragon software and training).  The AtW Adviser will send copies of the report to the member of staff will be asked to read the report to ensure that there are no inaccuracies in respect of what information the individual has given the assessor. If there are any amendments to be made, these should be marked on the copy and returned to the Adviser. If there are no changes to be made, the member of staff should provide a copy of the report to their line manager and discuss the report with them along with their HR Adviser.
The AtW Adviser will send written confirmation to the member of staff and employer detailing the amount of funding Access to Work will provide.

Should all the recommendations be provided?
Yes – under the Equality Act 2010 all reasonable adjustments must be implemented to ensure a disabled person can undertake their role. Only a legal judgement can determine what is reasonable.

In certain circumstances a change of the nature of the post, or the post itself, may be
recommended, if it is apparent that the work is no longer suitable for the disabled member of staff. If this occurs, the member of staff should discuss the options with their line manager and HR.

HR can provide support and advice to find another posting for which the disabled member of staff is better suited and which is compatible with their needs, preferences and abilities. This can be a particularly worrying time for an individual and line managers will need to be sensitive to the needs of their member of staff and some re-assurance may be required.

What happens if there are any IT recommendations?
If there is likely to be any IT involvement, then HR or the line manager should liaise with the IT unit to ensure that the IT equipment/software is compatible with any security firewalls, etc.  If there is likely to be a problem, then the individual can arrange for the Access to Work Adviser to discuss this with the IT unit so that suitable alternative options meet the needs of the disabled member of staff. It also ensures compatibility and accessibility with the employers IT systems (including intranets, etc).

Should a disabled member of staff have a workstation/workplace assessment before an Access to Work Assessment?

Yes, this can be done either before the Access to Work assessment or, if possible, on the same day so that the two assessors can ensure the most suitable adjustments are made.

Who pays for the adjustments?
Once Access to Work have approved the level of funding they will provide funding towards the recommendations an employer can buy the necessary equipment and can then claim repayment of the agreed costs from Access to Work.

How much assistance in terms of funding can an employer receive?
The amount of help your organisation may receive from Access to Work will vary depending on how long the disabled member of staff has been employed by the organisation, and what support the individual needs. Access to Work pays a proportion of the costs of support if:

•    the disabled member of staff has been in the job for six weeks or more
•    the disabled member of staff needs special equipment

Jobcentre Plus/Access to Work determine the level of cost sharing as follows:

•    employers with 1 to 9 employees will not be expected to share costs
•    employers with 10 to 49 employees will pay the first £300 and 20% of costs up to £10,000
•    employers with 50 to 249 employees will pay the first £500 and 20% of costs up to £10,000
•    large employers with 250 or more employees will pay the first £1,000 and 20% of costs up to £10,000
•    Government departments do not receive funding

Access to Work recommend that the adjustments for a disabled member of staff should be reviewed via Access to Work between one and three years after implementation.

If you require further advice please email:

Source – Business Link