If you’re disabled, you may have found that trying to get a job is extremely challenging. Luckily, the government’s Access to Work scheme can give you the extra funding and support needed to not only go to interviews in the first place, but hold onto long-term employment.
Access to Work Explained
The Access to Work scheme is an initiative run by the government. It offers support and practical advice to help you find a job, as well as providing financial assistance for work-related costs. For example, if you’re deaf, you might need the help of a translator at an interview. Perhaps a mobility scooter might be required so you can travel to and from work more easily. Alternatively, you might even need a helper or specialist job coach on hand to provide extra support throughout your working day. Grants can help with all of these scenarios, enabling you to enjoy a fulfilling career.
Access to Work Eligibility
As you might expect, there are strict criteria you need to meet to be eligible for funding. You should meet the following qualifiers, though the list is not exhaustive.
- You are aged 16 or over
- You have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to work
- You are a resident of the UK
- You require help with a job interview
- You are about to start a work trial or employment
- You are due to start young person’s work experience or self-arranged work experience
- You are about to start a BIS traineeship or a Department for Education support internship
The term ‘disabled’ is as outlined in the Equality Act 2010, where it is defined as a ‘physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on (your) ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. However, there are also disabilities that might only show themselves in the workplace. For example, upon starting employment you might discover that using a computer affects your eyesight; something you hadn’t noticed before.
Grant Payments and Thresholds
Access to work grants offer financial assistance to get you into employment and, as such, will cover 100per cent of any approved costs if you’re self-employed, starting work or having been employed for under six weeks. If you’re already working and have been doing so for six weeks or more, you can still get a proportion of costs paid depending on the size of the company.
For example, in a workforce of fewer than 50 people, the government will pay all the costs. For companies between 50 and 249 employees, you will be required to pay £500 and the Access to Work scheme will cover 80per cent of costs, with a maximum payout of £10,000. A similar set of rules affects employers with more than 250 workers, though, in this case, you’ll have to pay the first £1,000.
Financial support via this scheme also has a cap, and as of October 1st 2015, any new claim can only be paid 1.5 times the national average salary. This means that the yearly cap is currently £40,800. If you were already receiving assistance from Access to Work before this time your payouts will be safeguarded until April 1st 2018 whilst your needs remain the same.
What the Access to Work Scheme Doesn’t Cover
As part of the Equality Act 2010, it was mandatory for employers to pay for any reasonable adjustments required for disabled workers. It means that, in some cases, it will be your employer’s responsibility to pay for changes, and not the governments. The scheme cannot be used to pay for standard health and safety items or anything generally regarded as a standard business cost or piece of equipment.
How to Apply
When you’re looking for a new job or work experience, it’s important to remember that you may qualify for Access to Work payments. Make sure you mention this to potential employers, either during the application or interview process, and provide them with a leaflet on the subject from Jobcentre Plus.
To begin your claim, you can phone 0345 268 8489 or go to the Gov.uk website. You can also talk to your local Jobcentre Plus coach as they’ll be able to give you advice and an access to work application form.
The Access to Work scheme can offer far more than financial support; it can be a gateway to employment. If you’ve dreamed of being able to get a job but have been held back by your disability and the work-related issues it brings, these grants could be the ideal solution. If you’re not yet ready to apply on your own, talk to the experienced staff at your local Jobcentre Plus first and discover just how government funding could help kick-start your career.