It is important that we continue to support disabled people once they are in employment. Although employers are required to make reasonable adjustments, some people may require additional support.
Access to Work is a world-leading initiative: probably the largest workplace adjustment programme in the OECD. Last year we invested over £100 million to support more than 35,000 people to start work or remain in work. The programme is flexible and customer focused and can fund such things as special equipment, extra travel costs, and support worker assistance.
The Government wants Access to Work to help more people, and both spending and numbers have increased since 2012: annual spending has increased by £15m and the number of people we help each year has risen by over 4,000. Access to Work’s Mental Health Support Service has also had an almost threefold increase in the volumes supported over the last 4 years.
We have extended the programme so that it can support people in Supported Internships, Traineeships, certain work experience as well as self-employed people on New Enterprise Allowance. We have also reviewed the programme to ensure it continues to deliver the range of support that disabled people need, that it continues to deliver high levels of customer service, and that it continues to become more efficient and effective, so that the maximum number of customers can be helped from the available funding. We will shortly set out proposals for further improvements.
Sue Baker said, “The good thing about having a job is I earn my own money. I have bought a new carpet for my flat and I pay my own bills. I am always busy and never get bored. I feel happy when I go to work because I see my colleagues and we work as a team”
Case Study: Access to Work
Pennie Hastings is employed as a Medical Technical Officer at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. She has all the necessary qualifications to carry out her duties but was unable to communicate with her colleagues and managers easily as she has Aspergers Syndrome. Her position within the company was under threat.
Pennie Hastings made an application to Access to Work, who asked Prospects, an organisation with a great deal of experience in dealing with people who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders, to recommend a support package. Prospects recommended 2 hours of support once a month to assist Ms Hastings. They also recommended that they carry out three awareness workshops to help her colleagues and staff to understand Aspergers Syndrome and help with communication issues. The employer agreed to fund the three workshops in London as a voluntary contribution towards Pennie Hastings’ support. Access to Work funded the additional support.
Prospects reported that Pennie Hastings was coping much better in the work place following even the initial support, especially the Disability Awareness training for her colleagues