Employment grants designed to support disabled people in the workplace and ensure they can remain in work are to be increased by £15,000 a year, the UK Government has announced has announced today.
The grants, available to disabled people on the ‘Access To Work‘ scheme, will rise from £42,100 a year to £57,200 from April 2018, following new measures introduced in Parliament today.
Access To Work Access provides financial support to ensure someone’s disability or health condition doesn’t prevent them from accessing or remaining in employment, but a £47k cap introduced in 2015 led to campaigners warning that some disabled people could miss out.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said increasing the annual cap “will ensure that more disabled people, particularly from the deaf community, are able to benefit from the grant and achieve their career aspirations”.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, said: “We believe that disabled people should have every opportunity to thrive in the workplace, and the tailored support of Access to Work caters to every individual’s unique needs.
“By extending this grant we’re ensuring that many more disabled people can reach their career potential, which is a key part of our commitment to getting one million more disabled people in work by 2027.”
Work and Pensions Committee Chair Frank Field MP cautiously welcomed the announcement, saying that limiting the amount of financial support disabled people can access amounts to a “cap on aspiration”.
“I am delighted at this move by DWP, which shows they are willing to listen to evidence”, he said.
“While the cap only directly affects about 200 people, many of those are senior professionals at the tops of their fields, who act as role models to others. At its current level, it acts as a cap on aspiration.
“I hope this marks a new approach to Access to Work for the Department, and we can finally begin to see some real progress towards cutting the disability employment gap.”
However, campaigners and charities have questioned whether or not the change goes far enough.
Disability Rights UK said they “remain concerned that the cap does need to be more flexible”, adding: “Whilst it is sufficient for most disabled people we think that flexibility is needed particularly regarding self-employed disabled people who may need expensive equipment to remain in employment.”
“It should be possible for the cap to be exceeded in exceptional circumstances”, they added.