What is the Access to Work Scheme?

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What is ‘Access to Work’?

The Access to Work Scheme provides practical and financial support to people with any disability (visible or not) to start or stay in work. The publicly funded employment support programme not only helps people with mental health issues, but also with neurodivergences or long term physical conditions. So, you can receive support because you use a wheelchair or you are hard of hearing, you have a learning disability, you have Down’s syndrome, you have a developmental condition, such as autism spectrum disorder; you have learning difficulties, like dyslexia or ADHD; you have diabetes or epilepsy, you have a temporary condition, like a broken leg; or you have a health condition, like anxiety or depression.

The support you get depends on your circumstances and needs, being able to have a grant, money to support you at job interviews or mental health support at work. The money you receive is totally compatible with any other benefit and you do not have to pay it back to the government. Furthermore, your incomes are not taken into account when you ask for Access to Work Scheme help.

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Who is eligible for the Access to Work scheme?

To receive Access to Work scheme support you must be someone who needs an aid, adaptation or financial or human support because of a disability or a physical or mental health condition (despite not having a mental health official diagnosis). Additionally, you must accomplish the following requisites:

  • Be 16 years old or over
  • Be in paid work (full or part-time more than 1 hour a week), have an interview for a job or be about to start or return in the next 12 weeks. That can be:
    • Employment
    • Self-employment
    • Apprenticeship
    • Work trial or work experience under the Youth Contract arranged through Jobcentre Plus
    • Internship
    • Work Placement
  • Live and work or be about to start or return to work in Great Britain. Though Northern Irland has a different system and Channel Islands or the Isle of Man are not included in the Access to Work Scheme.

Remember that Access to Work Scheme does not apply to civil servants and despite being compatible with Universal Credit you might not get it if you are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Income Support or National Insurance credits, unless “you are doing certain types of ‘permitted work’ to help you move off benefits completely”, says the government website.

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What type of support do Access to Work offer?

The money you receive throughout the Access to Work Scheme can help you, for example, to pay the aid and equipment you may need at your workplace, to adapt it to use it easily or moving it if you change location or job, to adapt your vehicle, to pay any extra travel costs to/from work if you can not use public transport, to pay an interpreter, a job coach, a note taker or a lip speaker, which is a very common aid that may need people who look for neurodiverse jobs.

In addition, if you are in a situation of a mental health condition, the Access to Work Scheme also can help you going into the job market, whilst you are working -to help you reducing your absence, for instance- or returning to work, as well as suggesting the workplace reasonable adjustments you may need. That is not only interesting from an employee point of view, but also from an employer perspective. At Exceptional Individuals we help both companies and workers to identify solutions to the challenges a neurodivergent person may face at his workplace. We do it through the Workplace Needs Assessment.

How much does the Access to Work scheme cost?

Access to Work Scheme does not cost anything to those who apply for it. On the contrary, they will receive a maximum of 65.180£ (for those who have been awarded or reviewed between the 1st of April 2022 and the 31st of March 2023).

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How do you apply for the Access to Work scheme?

At Exceptional Individuals, we provide Workplace Needs Assessments for neurodivergent employees that require support to succeed in their jobs.

‘Without the help of Exceptional Individuals helping with my access to work, I believe I wouldn’t still be in employment’ – neurodivergent employee

You do not need be officially diagnosed, however you will need the following information:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Workplace address (postcode included)
  • Name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact, such as your HR contact or line manager
  • UTR number if you’re are self-employed

Webinar: How Do I Access the ‘Access to Work’ Grant?

Nat Hawley, our Head of Community, has hosted a webinar that includes a step-by-step guide to accessing the Access to Work grant.

Related resources:

Private workplace assessments
Workplace needs assessment (form for employers)

Blog Author

Natalia Herrero López