Access to Work Information

A PDF version of this guidance is available - Access to Work Information Sheet

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help disabled people start or stay in work. It can provide practical and financial support if an individual has a disability (i.e. a long-term physical, mental, cognitive or developmental condition).

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to help individuals: 

  • start working
  • stay in work

How much support an individual may receive depends on their circumstances. The money does not have to be paid back and will not affect any other benefits they may also receive.

Access to Work can also give practical advice and guidance to the University, to help support discussions around support and adjustments. Access to Work should always ask for permission from individuals before they share information with the University. The University may be responsible for some of the costs of any claim, however this should never deter individuals from applying.

This information sheet provides summary information on the programme however further information is available directly on the Access to Work webpages.


Individuals can apply to Access to Work if they:

  • live in (and normally work in, or anticipated to start or return to work in), Scotland, England or Wales and
  • have a disability, illness or health condition that means they need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do their job (long-term means lasting or likely to last for at least 12 months) – they won’t normally be asked to provide any proof of a diagnosis
  • have a mental health, cognitive or developmental condition and need support in work

Individuals must also be either:

  • in paid work
  • about to start work
  • about to have an interview for a job

How can it help and what support may be provided?

Access to Work can help pay for support required because of a disability or long-term health condition.  There is no set amount for an Access to Work grant (although there is a maximum per year). The grant amount depends on the specific case and can cover the support needed for an individual to get work or to stay in work. For example: 

  • someone to help at a job interview
  • money towards any extra travel costs to and from work if using available public transport isn’t an option*, or help to adapt a vehicle
  • special equipment to help/allow an individual to work
  • practical help at work such a support worker like a note taker, lip speaker or a job coach
  • disability awareness training for other colleagues at work
  • changes to the equipment used for work
  • the cost of moving equipment if an individual changes location or job
  • support if an individual has a mental health condition and is absent from work or finding it difficult to work

*individuals may need to provide Access to Work some proof of costs, for example for taxi fares.

Access to Work and their partners will also work with the University to advise how best to support individuals in the workplace.

Support for Mental Health Conditions

If and individual has a mental health condition or conditions (diagnosed or undiagnosed) that has resulted in workplace absence(s), or is making it difficult to remain in work, Access to Work can offer free confidential support and assistance to develop a support plan. This may include steps to support individuals going in to, remaining in or returning to work alongside suggestions for reasonable adjustments in the workplace. It is not necessary to inform the University of any application for support for a mental health condition, but part of the support plan may be to involve the University to ensure appropriate support can be provided at work. 

Regardless of any approach to the Access to Work programme, the University’s Health and Wellbeing resources remain available for colleagues to access as they require.


How do I apply and what happens next?

Applications to Access to Work are self-led and the quickest and easiest way to apply to Access to Work is online at Applications can also be made by calling Jobcentre Plus on 0800 121 7479 (Textphone: 0800 121 7579).

Individuals will be asked what help and support they need when they apply. Access to Work will also contact the University for more information (unless individuals are seeking mental health support).

When contacting the Access to Work team, they may require the following:

  • National Insurance number
  • workplace address, including the postcode
  • the name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact, for example the relevant line manager


Following an application to Access to Work, an adviser will contact the applicant to discuss what help may be available. 

Where an applicant knows what support they need, they will not need to have an assessment. An Access to Work adviser will discuss the award with the applicant and develop a tailored package of support.

Where an assessment is required, it will normally be carried out by telephone, an online video call or in person within the workplace (e.g. at the University) to assess specific workplace needs.

If Access to Work advise that all the support required should be provided by the University as a ‘reasonable adjustment’, they will advise this in writing.  If a university point of contact (e.g. line manager) has already been provided then they will receive this information too, so that they know what is required of the University.

The Support for Disabled & Neurodivergent Colleagues Portal outlines the process to be followed to ensure that adjustments and supports are considered and implemented in a timely manner.


The Assessment Report

Access to work will not send the full report to the University but will pass on information relating to the recommendations made as well as confirmation of whether or not the recommendations are in scope for Access to Work (e.g. for grant funding).

Applicants on the other hand will receive a full assessment report. If they are comfortable to do so, they may choose to share the report (or selected elements within) with their line manager for the purposes of supporting dialogue around their adjustments and support.