Disabled people will be able to apply for grants later this year
Disabled people trying to find or stay in work will be able to apply for grants from April.
The Department for Work and Pensions [DWP]’s Access for Work subsidy will provide financial support towards services such as a sign language interpreter, travel costs and accessible equipment.
According to Work and pensions minister, Mims Davies, her office “anticipate by April 2024 that a fully digital service will be available, with applicants able to claim for all types of grants"
Ryan Kennedy, adjustments and accessibility lead at Scope charity, said the digital Access to Work system could "easily be adapted for both employers and Access to Work to take a more active role in the online claims process".
He added: "Access to Work, while good in principle, is beset by problems. The system is dogged with delays. Disabled people are waiting a long time for assessments and for their applications to be awarded, which results in delays in them ordering equipment.”
Jackie O’Sullivan, acting CEO of Mencap, stressed why the current system needs to be replaced as it had been "an administrative burden on employers and disabled people".
She continued: "No person with a learning disability should risk falling out of employment or a training programme because their support cannot be put in place in time or because the paper-based application process is too complicated."
Sir Stephen Timms, Labour chairman of the Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee has asked the government when the new service will be active after he was told in 2021 the Conservatives "spending £5 million on Access to Work to commence delivery of a fully digital customer service".
Timms has also questioned if the online service has made it quicker for the government to make their decisions.
Davies told the opposition her office was still looking into it, but hopes “that processing times may decrease".
Timms said: "I hope that the new online service will mark the start of a substantial improvement, reducing the barriers which disabled people too often encounter in obtaining and staying in work. As well as modernisation, the select committee has called for a marketing push to make Access to Work much better known."
[ If you are disabled and looking for work, support and opportunities can be found on the Evenbreak website. ]