Innovative Policy 2013 on Employment

UK’s effective employment services

Employment services play a key role in enabling job seekers to find jobs suited to their skills and interests, and employers to find the workers they seek. The United Kingdom recognized that effective workplace adaptation and support is pivotal, especially for particularly disadvantaged job seekers.

The Access to Work Programme
Founded on:1994
Country/Region
of origin
United Kingdom
Beneficiaries targetedEligible persons have a disability or health condition as defined under the Equality Act which is affecting their ability to work, are 16 or over, in work already for less than six weeks (paid job or self-employment), or have a confirmed start date (Job or Work trial), full-time (16 hours or more a week).
Responsible bodyDepartment for Work and Pensions
StakeholdersPublic and private sector

IN BRIEF

Focusing on what enables a person to work, the Access to Work Programme of 1994 provides practical advice and support to people with disabilities and their employers to help them to overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability, complementing provisions on reasonable adjustment of the Equality Act 2010. Access to Work helps to pay for the equipment an individual needs at work, a support worker, communications support and the cost of travelling to work. Most importantly, it tests a “right to control” giving persons with disabilities the control over budgets allocated to them and has introduced a Mental Health Support Service.

FACTS & FIGURES

  • During 2009-2010, Access to Work supported 37,300 persons with disabilities (16,400 were new customers), at a cost of £98 million (an average cost per person of around £2,600).
  • 45% of customers would be out of work but for the support they receive through Access to Work. There is a net return to the Treasury of £1.48 for every £1 spent.
  • Access to Work is a highly effective programme, which is well supported by users, employers and DPOs.
  • In March 2012, the British Government announced its intent to invest funds of £15 million, increasing the number of beneficiaries by a further 8,000 persons.

INNOVATIVE ASPECTS

Focus on abilities
Rather than focusing on a person’s functional limitations through work capability assessments, Access to Work focuses on which supports or work environment enable the individual to work.

Targeted support
Support workers and communicators help people with intensive needs and a mental health support service assists people with psychosocial disabilities.

Right to control
Promisingly, the programme pilots an approach which gives people with disabilities control over budgets allocated to them for a range of services, including Access to Work and health care services.

Sustainable use of financial resources
With a net return to the Treasury of £1.48 for every £1 spent on the programme, plus social return on investment, Access to Work is highly cost-effective.

HISTORY

In the United Kingdom, the first comprehensive framework for the employment of persons with disabilities was introduced by the Disabled Persons Employment Act 1944. The Act and its requirement that employers employ a quota of disabled people  were almost completely repealed by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. When in the early ‘90s the OECD called for “measures to enhance the competitive power of individuals with disabilities”, the discussion in the United Kingdom focused around employment services and training, help for employees, and incentives to take up work. In this context, and on the basis of the Employment and Training Act 1973, the Access to Work Programme was introduced by the Department for Work and Pensions in June 1994, aiming at extending and simplifying the range of services available. The programme provides practical advice and support to people with disabilities and their employers to help them to overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability, complementing provisions of the Equality Act 2010, under which employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to the working arrangements or the workplace. Access to Work, along with other disability employment programmes, was recently reviewed under the lead of Liz Sayce, whose recommendations were accepted by the government in 2012 and currently it is being planned how to implement them.

«The “right to control” and Access to Work are a powerful basis on which a future model of individualised employment support could be built.»

Liz Sayce, Disability Rights UK

KEY FEATURES

Access to Work assists persons who have a disability, or health condition as defined under the Equality Act 2010, which is affecting their ability to work. It provides practical advice and support to people with disabilities and their employers to help them to overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability, matching employer’s obligations to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. Support can be requested by the person with disabilities and is delivered through Jobcentre Plus. Access to Work helps to pay for the equipment an individual needs at work, a support worker, an interpreter, a communicator at job interviews and towards the cost of travelling to and within work. The programme has recently been extended to young disabled people doing work experience and government has accepted recommendations to promote and grow the scheme and offer better information on eligibility to disabled job seekers. There is a staggered approach to cost sharing based on the time the individual has been employed, on the supports required and on the size of an employer’s workforce, and the precise level is agreed between the employer and the Access to Work adviser.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

Access to Work is still not a statutory benefit. It is under-used by people working in small businesses and by those with psychosocial and learning disabilities. Review recommendations are currently being implemented.

CONTACT

Ms. Liz SAYCE
Chief Executive, Disability Rights UK
+44 20 75 66 01 25
Cheryl.Gowar@disabilityrightsuk.org
www.disabilityrightsuk.org

SOURCES

Liz Sayce, Getting in, staying in and getting on. Disability employment support fit for the future, June 2011, available at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/sayce-report.pdf

Department for Work and Pensions, Sayce Review response: Government to support thousands more disabled people into mainstream employment, 7 March 2012, available at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2012/mar-2012/dwp022-12.shtml

Nominated by: Ms. Liz SAYCE, Disability Rights UK