Access to work

This guide explains who is eligible for Access to Work and how to apply.


Access to work is a government run discretionary grant which helps people with a disability to start or remain in employment. It provides financial and practical support to help disabled people overcome the barriers they face in the workplace. This support could pay for aids and equipment in the workplace, human support such as a job coach or other work related costs. This guide will provide an overview of who is eligible for Access to Work, what help Access to Work will provide and how to make a claim.

Who Can Get Help

In order to receive help from Access to Work

  • You must be over 16
  • Live in England, Scotland or Wales (Northern Ireland has a different system)

You also have to meet certain health qualifications:

  • You must have a long term health condition or disability that affects your ability to work.
  • Your disability or health condition must have lasted longer than a year, and be expected to continue for the next year.
  • You will need extra aids, equipment or adaptations, financial or human help in order to do your job and remain in work.
  • If you have a mental health condition, then it must affect your ability to do your job. It must also mean that you need support in starting a new job, staying in your current job or reducing your absence from work.

Work Qualifications

To receive help from Access to Work, one of these points must apply to you:

  • You are already doing paid work (including self-employment)
  • You are about to start work or become self-employed
  • You have an interview for a job
  • You are about to start a work trial arranged through Jobcentre Plus

Self- Employment

You are able to receive help from Access to Work even if you are self-employed. Being self-employed means working for yourself or in partnership with another. If you are self-employed, you will have your own Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number. Please note the Access to Work grant cannot pay for the costs of setting up your own business.

If you are self-employed and over retirement age (and not paying national insurance), you can still apply for Access to Work. You will need to show your business’s financial accounts as evidence of your self-employment. If your business is newly set up, you can show a business plan instead. This business plan must be of a standard accepted by a bank.

What Help is Available?

The support available from Access to Work is not fixed. What help you receive and how much of it, will depend on your individual circumstances.

Examples of the type of help provided include:

  • Aids and equipment for use in your workplace
  • Adapting workplace equipment so that it works for you
  • Help with travel costs if your health condition means you cannot use public transport
  • A support worker to help you at work, for example a note taker, a reader or job coach
  • Someone to help you at a job interview, for example a communicator, advocate or BSL interpreter
  • Disability awareness training for your work colleagues, to help them understand how to support and work with you

Mental Health Support

If you have a long term mental health condition which affects your ability to work, Access to Work will work with you to develop a Work Support Plan. This is designed to help you to start working or remain in your current work.

Examples of help include:

  • Flexible working patterns to account for changes in your mood and the effect of medications
  • A mentor to provide emotional support to help you at work  Extra training, so that you are confident in your work
  • Giving you extra time to finish certain work tasks
  • Phased returns to work- i.e. working fewer hours than normal when you first return to work
  • Working with your employer and your manager to find the best ways to support you

How to Claim

The quickest way to apply is online using the link Access to Work.

If you would like to apply over the phone, you can call Jobcentre Plus on:

Telephone: 0800 121 7479

Textphone: 0800 121 7579

When applying you will need to access to your:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Your workplace address including post code
  • The name, work phone number and email address of a workplace contact, e.g. your manager
  • If you are self-employed, you will need your Unique Tax Reference Number (UTR)

Your employer will be contacted by Access to Work during the application process. If you need to contact Access to Work in an alternative matter, please contact using the address below and state your needs:

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

Disagreeing with your Decision

When applying for Access to Work, you are not guaranteed any set amount of money and therefore cannot appeal the amount of money you have been awarded. If you are not happy with the contents of your Access to Work package, then you can ask for it to be reconsidered by a different Access to Work Advisor. You can do this by using the contact details at the top of your award letter. You can only ask for your application to be reconsidered once.

If your work situation has changed, for example- you have moved to a new employer, then you can ask for your Access to Work award to be reviewed.

If you are unhappy with the service offered by Access to Work Staff you can use the DWP Complaints Procedure.

Information last updated on 8 June 2020. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.

If you would like this information guide in another version then please contact us and we will post or email you a copy.

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