Does the UK Gov Access to Work scheme fund assistive technology?

At AbilityNet TechShare Pro 2022, AbilityNet Accessibility and Usability Consultant, Adi Latif hosted a session with Debbie Bradford and Ian Milton from UK's Department for Work and Pension. They provided an update on the Access to Work scheme and explained how it could help pay for assistive technology that could benefit you or someone you work with.

The full interview is available now as a podcast episode. In this blog, Adi shares the key updates for Access to Work in 2023, and adds extra answers to questions from Debbie and Ian.

Access to Work can fund assistive technology

Adi Latif, smiling at the cameraThe Access to Work scheme can provide practical and financial support for a disabled employee who is either starting or returning to work. 

My personal experience with Access to Work has been amazing. It's a service that I hold very dearly close to my heart, and for all of my working life, I've been tapping into Access to Work to help me level the playing field. I'm blind and because of this I’ve faced a number of challenges in the workplace.

When I first started working back in 2005, the workplace wasn't that accessible, so Access to Work helped me fund a screen reader which reads the computer screen to me. It also helped pay for programmers to make my screen reader work better with the inaccessible software that was present in that particular workplace. 

You may also find AbilityNet’s How to apply for an Access to Work grant factsheet useful.

We also have information on Reasonable Adjustments and Disability and Employment.

New online portal for Access to Work payments 

There’s a major process change for disabled people in the workplace. Ian from UK's Department for Work and Pension shared the Covid-19 pandemic gave Access to Work a push to embrace digital and start the move for Access to Work payments to go online. 

With the new paperless payment method, Access to Work recipients will soon be able to submit claims online and upload receipts. Employers will also be able to use electronic authentication to confirm claims through their emails and online accounts.

Ian said that Access to Work is “hoping to conclude by November and review it in December so that in the new year [2023] we can aim to roll that out to all Access to Work customers.”

Access to Work support for hybrid working 

The Covid-19 pandemic saw an increase in people working remotely, which resulted in a new way of working. 

Access to Work now offers support for disabled people who work at the office and at home, also known as “hybrid working”. Debbie explained that “what this means is that you can have support in the office in the workplace and also at home”. 

Adjustments Passports for disabled students Young woman in a wheelchair picking out a book on a shelf

During the TechShare Pro session, Debbie also shared that Access to Work has been testing Adjustments Passports at Wolverhampton, Manchester Metropolitan and King's College London universities to help disabled students transition from university to work. 

Students complete the passports with their university’s student offices, so any support that they've had at university or through Disabled Student's Allowance (DSA) is captured on the Passport. This helps students have that information ready when they interview with potential employers. 

The Passports help show the support students have had in the past and more importantly, show the support they will need in the future at work. 

The Adjustments Passports have also helped to raise awareness of Access to Work. Debbie explained that during the testing they found many students were not aware of the Access to Work scheme - so the Passports help bridge that gap. 

Due to the positive feedback from the Adjustments Passports, Debbie said they hope to roll the passports out soon for all universities.

Health Adjustments Passports and job seekers

In job centres, Access to Work has now introduced Health Adjustments Passports. 

A disabled job seeker can discuss with a work coach to get the passport completed and that will help the work coach to then send the appropriate vacancy to the job seeker and raise with the employer the types of support the candidate will need. 

The Health Adjustments Passports will help stop difficult conversations with employers and remove barriers before the employee begins at their new place of work. 

Access to Work Passports for Disabled contractors and freelancers

Debbie shared that Access to Work has recently done “a lot of work in the self-employment area”. Disabled contractors and freelancers can use the Health Adjustment Passport, but also benefit from the newly introduced Flexible application.

Before, contractual freelancers would only receive Access to Work cover based on their contract time, then they would have to reapply for Access to Work once they got a new job. 

With the flexible application, a contractual freelancer can submit their application and support will be awarded for three years where they can turn it on and turn it off as they move between jobs. 

Debbie compared the Flexible Application to furlough, “so, when you're in work you will get support. Then it will lay dormant until your next contract starts and then it will reactivate as soon as you move into the new area of work.”

Your Access to Work questions answered

The TechShare Pro session also included an opportunity to pose questions to Debbie and Ian from UK's Department for Work and Pension.

Q: What are the provisions for people who are on the job search?Graphic of a person scratching their head with three question marks above them

Access to Work funding is normally available for people who are about to start or are already in employment. There are some exceptions to this including work experience which Access to Work grant funding can be provided for up to 8 weeks per annum.

For all other types of support for people who are job searching, I would recommend they contact their local Jobcentre Plus office which details can be found on

Q: We are hearing about delays in processing applications for Access to Work. Is there any update on that?

Access to Work is continuing to review the processes and procedures it uses to improve waiting times for all applicants. We are continuing to monitor the situation with a view to reducing the wait time as soon as possible.

Q: Does Access to Work offer help for any adjustments needed during the application process?

For people applying for Access to Work with a job to start within the next 4 weeks, their application will be prioritised to enable their support to be put in place as soon as possible. 

For all other applications, where support is needed more urgently whilst the application is being considered, the Access to Work case manager can consider temporary support until a decision can be made on the overall grant funding.

If you haven’t already, you can access the full podcast recording and transcript of the Update on the Access to Work scheme TechShare Pro session below.

Listen to the podcast: Access to Work Updates