07 Aug Record number of disabled people in the East of England supported by the Access to Work scheme
A record number of disabled people in the East of England have been supported by the Access to Work scheme, as new figures reveal 3,100 people received the life-changing grant last year.
Government spending on the scheme is also up to record levels, with £129.1 million spent last year – a real terms increase of £15 million since 2010.
Access to Work is a government-run scheme that breaks down workplace barriers for disabled people and those with health conditions by paying for adjustments such as specialist equipment, support workers, travel to work and sign language interpreters.
People can receive almost £60,000 a year through the scheme, which is more than double the average annual salary and an increase of 40% in just two years.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:
“Having a disability or health condition must not be a barrier to enjoying a fulfilling career – and the support available means there’s no excuse for employers who refuse to be inclusive.
“Access to Work removes the obstacles facing disabled people in workplaces across the East of England, helping to level the playing field and ensure businesses don’t see employing disabled people as a burden.
“With a record number of disabled people in the East of England supported through Access to Work, local employers are benefitting from the skills disabled people bring to the workplace.”
Access to Work is part of a wider government drive to create more job opportunities for disabled people, with nearly 950,000 more disabled people in work compared to five years ago.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has committed to reviewing the government’s goal to see one million more disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027 with a view to making the target more ambitious.
Ross is a wheelchair user who works for Lloyds Banking Group. He has a support worker to help with workplace tasks, paid for by Access to Work.
“Access to Work has made a massive difference to my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have a job. I probably wouldn’t be earning a living, I wouldn’t own my own home, I wouldn’t be able to go on holidays and I wouldn’t be able to follow the hobbies that interest me because I wouldn’t be able to be employed. It makes a massive, massive difference to me.”
Louis, who is visually impaired, also works for Lloyds Banking Group. Access to Work has paid for taxi fares so that Louis and his guide dog Dexter can get to and from work safely.
“Access to Work is that key enabler which allows businesses to be as inclusive as they want to be.”