Access to work – Find your way
This is your guide to the Access to Work (AtW) process. When you’re first starting out it can all seem a bit daunting. D&A are here to help! This handy step-by-step guide will show you all the things you need to do to get up and running with your AtW support.
What *is* AtW?
Access to Work (AtW) is a grant that funds practical support if you have a disability, health or mental health condition. The aim is to help you start work, stay in work or be able move into self-employment or start a business. The support will accommodate your individual needs, and ensure all the reasonable adjustments you need to do your job to the best of your ability are in place.
AtW grants are available if you’re over 16 and your employer is based in England, Scotland or Wales. There’s a different system in Northern Ireland. You must be about to start a job or work trial, or already in a paid job or self-employed. Unfortunately you can’t get a grant for voluntary work.
Your disability or health condition must affect your ability to do a job on a day to day basis or mean you have to pay work-related costs. For example, special computer equipment or travel costs because you can’t use public transport.
What support might I get?
There is no set amount for an Access to Work grant as the recommendations of support are tailored to your specific needs. What you get depends on your circumstances. However grants are capped at £40,800 per year.
The money can pay for things like:
- adaptations to the equipment you use
- special equipment
- fares to work if you can’t use public transport
- a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace
- a support service if you have a mental health condition and you’re absent from work or finding it difficult to work
- disability awareness training for your colleagues
- a communicator at a job interview
- the cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job
Contact Access to Work and register your interest.
The contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
Operational Support Unit
Harrow Jobcentre Plus
Mail Handling Site A
When you contact Access to Work you may need the following information at hand:
- your National Insurance number
- your workplace address, including your postcode
- the name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact, e.g. your manager
- your unique tax reference number (if you’re self-employed)
- the name of your New Enterprise Allowance mentor (if you have one)
Provide them with your contact details and an AtW Advisor will call you within 7 working days.
The AtW Advisor will go through the eligibility criteria with you and have a “fact finding” discussion with you to establish what your barriers in the workplace are and what kind of support might be available.
At this point, if you haven’t already, it’s worth discussing with your employer that you’re applying for AtW funding.
Disclosing a disability and advocating for support can be a daunting prospect. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way of approaching it – it will depend on your relationship with your employer, the nature of your disability, the reason for support, and many other factors
If you need any guidance on disclosure or self-advocacy, you may find pages 6-8 of our Getting Support article helpful:
If it helps, you can show your employer this Access to Work eligibility letter to outline what AtW is and what might be required of them in the process.
You will be asked to present evidence to support your claim.
If you have an SpLD you will need an up to date diagnostics report. If you don’t have one already, unfortunately AtW do not help with the cost of having one, so you will either have to fund this independently, or you could ask your employer if they might be able to support you with this cost.
If you have a physical disability, long term health condition, or suffer from mental health issues then you will need to present a letter from your doctor or consultant.
If AtW decide that you meet the eligibility criteria, they will authorise a workplace needs assessment (paid for by AtW). This usually takes place within a couple of weeks of the referral.
An assessor will either visit you in the workplace or hold an over the phone assessment, depending on the “complexity” of your needs.
The assessment will identify what your challenges are and what types of support will enable you to overcome them.
The assessor will draw up a report of recommendations which will then be sent back to your AtW Advisor for evaluation.
You and your employer will then receive a letter which states what funding you will be awarded.
Now it is then down to you and your employer to order/arrange the support. Your employer will need to purchase any equipment and arrange payment for any other support you're entitled to. You will probably need to liaise with your HR department or equivalent to get this arranged.
The recommendations in your needs assessment are exactly that, recommendations. So if there is a product or service provider akin to the one budgeted for in your AtW entitlement, which you would prefer to use, your choice will usually be honored and you can use these funds elsewhere. However, it is likely that you will need to “price-match” as the cost may not be reimbursed if it is above the original quote AtW agreed. It’s always worth checking with your AtW Advisor before purchasing anything.
Your employer will need to contact AtW for reimbursement of most of the costs, but they will be expected to make some contribution on your behalf:
|50-249 Employees||First £500, then 20% of anything up to £10,000|
|250+ Employees||First £1000, then 20% of anything up to £10,000|
Any costs over £10,000 are covered by AtW.
Some costs can be paid directly to the supplier by AtW, e.g. skills training.
Support is usually provided in the workplace so that it remains relevant to your work environment and your day to day tasks. You will be able to book sessions in with your coach/trainer at times that suit you, whether that’s during the working day or after work. If you have any queries about what the support entails or how it works, then visit our Services pages for more information.
Good luck! Get in touch if you need any pointers, we’re happy to help!