Access to Work

The Government’s Access to Work (ATW) grant scheme supports people with disabilities or health conditions with  advice, practical and financial support to start or stay  in work.

It is based on an individual’s needs and could include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace or for those working from home.

 

What can Access to Work cover?

An Access to Work grant does not need to be paid back and could pay for a range of  support  including:

  • Specialist equipment
  • Support workers
  • Help with travel costs to work and back
  • Mental health support

 

Special aids and equipment

There is a variety of special aids and equipment available to blind and partially sighted people, but the most common are screen reading and magnification software.

ATW can provide funding to your employer to purchase any software or equipment you need to carry out your role. If you are a JAWS user and your role requires using a PC, this will be covered as part of your claim. Similarly, magnification software programmes like ZoomText, will also be covered by the funding.

If you are looking at roles that might require you to be able to read information while you work and the use of a screen reader does not meet these needs, the cost of a braille display can also be covered by your ATW claim.

For further information on the types of special aids and equipment available for the workplace check out the  Vital Tech website

 

Support workers

ATW will cover the cost of employing a support worker to assist with elements of a role which might be difficult due to your level of sight. Support workers can help with a range of activities. For example, if your role requires accessing a large amount of handwritten information, a support worker can be employed to act as a reader for you to access the information.

If a role requires you to carry out regular filing but you feel this might be difficult, this is also something you could employ somebody to support you with.

Mobility support is also something that a support worker can be employed to assist you with. If the duties and responsibilities of a role require you to attend regular meetings at external venues and you are concerned you might find it difficult finding your way to the meeting venues you could employ a support worker to provide mobility support to and from the meeting.

 

Travel to work

ATW can provide funding to help you get to and from your workplace. If you find it difficult to get to and from work using public transport, ATW can fund a taxi for part or all of your journey.

For example, if you need to get public transport to the location of your workplace but getting to and from the station is not possible, ATW could fund a taxi to take you from your home to the train station or from the train station to your office (and vice versa). Alternatively, if you feel you would struggle to use public transport for any of your journeys you can request  ATW to fund a taxi for the entirety of your journey.

If your job requires you to attend different locations for meetings or due to elements of your work taking place at different offices, ATW can fund taxis to get you around in work. This is known as the ‘taxi -in-work scheme’. You might prefer to use a support worker to act as a driver in these circumstances but if that’s not possible the taxi -in-work scheme is available.

 

Ongoing Covid-19 Access to Work easements

Thomas Pocklington Trust is leading work with national partners to address Access to Work issues. We are in regular discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and have achieved many easements to support Access to Work customers throughout Covid.

These  include:

  • Accepting email claim forms from customers who request this as a reasonable adjustment
  • Extending Support Worker awards that are coming to an end by 6 months
  • Extending the timeframe customers have to submit payment claim forms to 9 months.
  • You may now be able to get help with working from home, at your normal workplace, or a combination of both.
  • If you cannot use public transport safely because of your disability, and your doctor or healthcare professional supports this, funding may be available for extra travel costs.
  • If you employ your own support worker and have additional costs for personal protective equipment (PPE) Access to Work may be able to provide funding.

In the longer term, work is underway to develop an online portal for Access to Work customers. While there is no date currently set for the release of this portal, TPT and other charities are working with the DWP to ensure full accessibility of the system.

DWP is prioritising new claims from critical workers, those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and people due to start work within 4 weeks.

Details of all the changes during COVID-19 are available in the Access to Work: factsheet for customers

 

More information on Access to Work

Access to work is available in England, Scotland and Wales.  There are different employment schemes available in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

To check if you are eligible and how to apply visit jobhelp.campaign.gov.uk/access-to-work 

You can also view the Access to Work easy read factsheet online

For more information visit

gov.uk/access-to-work

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