Disabled entrepreneurs and small businesses will benefit from more support to pay for specialised equipment and other costs faced by disabled people in work under changes announced to the Government’s Access to Work disability employment programme.
Access to Work provides financial help towards the extra costs faced by disabled people at work, such as travel costs, specially adapted equipment and support workers.
The changes mean:
• Businesses with up to 49 employees will no longer pay a contribution towards the extra costs faced by disabled people in work, saving them up to £2,300 per employee who uses the fund
• Disabled jobseekers who want to set up their own business through the New Enterprise Allowance will now be eligible for Access to Work funding from day one of receiving jobseeker’s allowance
• Access to Work advisers will be given more flexibility in deciding which equipment is funded through the scheme, offering more choice to disabled people in work
The Government will also implement a package of measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel, chaired by Mike Adams from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People. The measures include funding the physical transfer of equipment, introducing a ‘fast-track’ application process where appropriate, and working with employers to find more imaginative solutions to support individuals.
This is in addition to the previously announced £15 million additional funding for Access to Work and the extension of the support to young people taking part in work experience through the Youth Contract.
Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey said: "Work is more than a job – it’s one of the best ways to increase independence, life fulfilment, social engagement and is central to someone’s identity. And although the disability employment rate has increased over recent years, there is still more we need to do to close the gap with non-disabled people.
“That is why we are now making these changes to Access to Work, to widen the scope of those who can benefit from this support, because disabled people aspire to the same jobs as everyone else.
"By opening up the Access to Work programme it will give disabled people more opportunities to have the same choice of jobs as everyone else, in every sector from hairdressing to engineering, and at every level."