Government spending on the Access to Work scheme is up to record levels, with £129.1 million spent last year – a real term increase of £15 million since 2010.
Access to Work is a government-run scheme that breaks down workplace barriers for disabled people and those with health conditions by paying for adjustments such as:
- specialist equipment
- support workers
- travel to work
- sign language interpreters
People can receive almost £60,000 a year through the scheme, which is more than double the average annual salary and an increase of 40% in just 2 years.
Payments for 36,240 people were made in 2018-19. This included funding for:
- special aids and equipment -14,080 people
- support workers – 10,850 people
- travel to work support – 6,490 people
- mental health support – 4,510 people
- travel in work support – 400 people
- communication support for interviews – 270 people
- adaption to vehicles – 140 people
- adaption to premises – 40 people
- miscellaneous support – 30 people
Around £3.1 million was spent on Access to Work Assessments and more people received a payment for a support worker than any other element. People who are deaf or hard of hearing are the largest group in receipt of access to work payments (16%)and receive the largest proportion of expenditure (36%).
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:
“Having a disability or health condition must not be a barrier to enjoying a fulfilling career – and the support available means there’s no excuse for employers who refuse to be inclusive.
Access to Work removes the obstacles facing disabled people in the workplace, helping to level the playing field and ensure businesses don’t see employing disabled people as a burden.
With more disabled people than ever before supported through Access to Work, thousands more employers across the country are benefitting from the skills disabled people bring to the workplace.”
Access to Work is part of a wider government drive to create more job opportunities for disabled people, with nearly 950,000 more disabled people in work compared to 5 years ago.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has committed to reviewing the government’s goal to see one million more disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027 with a view to making the target more ambitious.
Ross is a wheelchair user who works for Lloyds Banking Group. He has a support worker to help with workplace tasks, paid for by Access to Work.
“Access to Work has made a massive difference to my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have a job. I probably wouldn’t be earning a living, I wouldn’t own my own home, I wouldn’t be able to go on holidays and I wouldn’t be able to follow the hobbies that interest me because I wouldn’t be able to be employed. It makes a massive, massive difference to me.”
Louis, who is visually impaired, also works for Lloyds Banking Group. Access to Work has paid for taxi fares so that Louis and his guide dog Dexter can get to and from work safely.
“Access to Work is that key enabler which allows businesses to be as inclusive as they want to be.”