Access to Work: a grant that could really make a difference

access to work

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme. It exists to help people with physical or mental health conditions or disabilities to start or stay in work, or to move into self-employment or start a business (although it doesn’t cover business start-up costs.)

You don’t have to be registered disabled to apply for Access to Work. It’s not means-tested, so it doesn’t matter how much you earn.

What can Access to Work be used for?

There are plenty of ways you can use the grant. For example:

  • Sourcing specialist equipment, or adapting existing equipment
  • Hiring necessary support workers (perhaps a job coach or a note-taker)
  • Communication support (for example, a British Sign Language interpreter)
  • Travel costs – if you can’t use public transport, you might need help with taxi fares, or adaptations to a work vehicle

Mental health support

Support is available for mental health issues, too – for example, sessions with a mental health professional to develop an effective plan to help a person remain in work. Access to Work partners also sometimes help employers to come up with programmes to support their employees.


Of course, there are eligibility criteria for Access to Work. You must reside and work in England, Scotland or Wales and be aged 16 or over. There are also eligibility criteria around the work you are already doing (or interviewing for), or if you are about to become self-employed. The individual must also have a disability or health condition that means they need support in some way.

It’s also worth noting that Access to Work might not be available if you are already receiving certain benefits, such as incapacity benefit or income support.

Reasonable adjustments

For the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments for employees who are considered disabled. This is not the same as being registered disabled. Access to Work does not pay for reasonable adjustments.

How to apply

The individual makes the claim, rather than the employer, via the government website. However, some costs may need to be paid up-front by the employer and reclaimed later. The individual claiming Access to Work is not required to pay back any money.

Each application is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and the amount received depends on what is required to support the individual. There is, however, an upper limit to grants available, which is reviewed each year. The current cap (£66,000) will be reviewed at the end of this month.

Find out more

There’s more information about Access to Work on this factsheet and this British Sign Language video. Or you can give us a call on 01449 708999 or email.


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