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Access to Work Grant Eligibility and Rules

What is the government grant called Access to Work? This page explains how the Access to Work scheme works in the United Kingdom.

GET HELP AT WORK: The Access to Work programme provides helpful payments and practical support. It is for individuals with a health condition, mental health condition, or a disability.

Payments from the Access to Work grant can help you:

  • Start working or make it easier to stay in work.
  • Make a move into self employment or set up a business.

The amount you receive through the Access to Work grant depends on your personal circumstances.

But, if you are eligible, the money does not affect any other benefits you receive and grant payments do not have to be repaid.

Note: The Access to Work grant does not cover business start-up costs. Some Access to Work rules are different in Northern Ireland. The guide is also available in Welsh language (Cymraeg).

Changes Employers must make in the Workplace

Your employer must ensure you do not get ‘substantially’ disadvantaged while carrying out your job. That means employers must make certain ‘reasonable adjustments for workers with disabilities‘.

It includes things like changing the working hours or providing specialised equipment. You should discuss any opportunities for making reasonable adjustments with your employer. If that fails, you might qualify to apply for Access to Work.

Access to Work Eligibility Criteria

The UK Access to Work grant is available providing your employer is usually based in England, Scotland, or Wales. In some cases you can also transfer the grant and equipment to a new employer if you change jobs.

To qualify for the Access to Work grant you must be 16 years or over and either:

  • Already be in a paid job or self-employed (voluntary work does not qualify).
  • About to start working in a paid job or a work trial.

Note: The New Enterprise Allowance or Youth Contract also qualify in some circumstances. You will not qualify for Access to Work eligibility if you live in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Access to Work Grant Health Conditions

Your disability or health conditions determine whether you will receive the payments. Your condition must affect your ability to perform work or it means you have additional work-related costs. It must also have lasted at least one year or it’s expected to last for a year.

Note: An example could be requiring special equipment or needing assistance with special travel costs.

What if your mental health condition affects your ability to do a job? It must also mean you need support to start a new job (or stay in work) or reduce your absence from work.

Access to Work Rules on Exceptions

Getting any of these benefits could mean that you may not qualify for the Access to Work grant:

There are exceptions for the ‘supported permitted work‘ program. It means you could qualify for Access to Work providing you are earning no more than £143 a week and you:

  • Work less than sixteen (16) hours a week as part of a treatment programme to help get you off claiming benefits.
  • Work while supervised by someone from a local council or voluntary organisation. They are specialists who help arrange work for disabled people.
Access to Work Grant How Much are the Payments?

The Access to Work payments get reviewed annually. They also get capped if the claim took place after the 1st of October 2015.

Check the list below for the current ceiling cap and maximum annual award limit (e.g. twice the national average salary):

  • £62,900 Upper Limit: 1st of April 2021 to 31st of March 2022.
  • £60,700 Upper Limit: 1st of April 2020 to 31st of March 2021.
  • £59,200 Upper Limit: 1st of April 2019 to 31st of March 2020.
  • £57,200 Upper Limit: 1st of April 2018 to 31st of March 2019.

The Access to Work Grant Covers:

Currently, Access to Work grant payments has no set amount but you can use the money to pay for:

  • Specialised equipment or special software for people with disabilities.
  • Adaptations to equipment that you use in work or a vehicle used to travel to work.
  • Traveling fares to work (e.g. taxi fares if you are unable to use public transport).
  • British Sign Language interpreters with the support of a video relay service (lip speakers or note takers).
  • A workplace job coach or support worker.
  • A language communicator at a job interview.
  • A support service if you have a mental health condition.
  • The cost of transporting your equipment if you change your job or workplace location.
  • Disability awareness training for your workplace colleagues.

The Access to Work Grant Does Not Cover:

  • Any ‘reasonable adjustment changes‘ that your employer should make.
  • Things that would usually get used in the job no matter whether a person has a disability or not.
  • Support practices that your employer provided before but has since stopped.

Apply for Access to Work Grant Online

An adviser will make contact after you apply for Access to Work grant online. They will discuss what kind of help is available for your particular situation.

The adviser may also contact your employer after they have discussed the scheme with you. In some cases, an assessor will visit your workplace to check what special needs will help you.

If you get an offer of support it usually includes a government grant. They will inform you how much the Access to Work payments will be and how long you will get them for.

The next step is for you (or your employer) to buy the items or specialist services that you need. The Access to Work scheme then repays the money – up to the amount of the approved grant. There may be some deductions taken off (e.g. for employer or NHS contributions).

You will need to provide some personal information including:

  • The full address of your workplace.
  • The name, email address, and the work phone number of a contact at your workplace. It should be someone who can authorise payment for the items and services in your support offer.

During the online application you will also need to explain:

  • How the health condition or disability affects you in the workplace.
  • What help, if any, you are getting already.
  • What kind of special equipment or other items could help you.

Note: There is no need to use the online service to report any circumstantial changes. You should report changes by telephone instead.

Contact Access to Work Phone Number Helpline

You can also apply for the Access to Work grant by telephone. Call their helpline as well to report any changes in a health condition. You may need:

Access to Work
[email protected]
Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
Check call charges to 0800 numbers.

Access to Work
Operational Support Unit
Harrow Jobcentre Plus
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 1JE

Access to Work advice is available using their helpline telephone number or email address. Contact them also if you want to complain about the way they handled your case.

Access to Work Scheme in the United Kingdom