What is Access to Work (AtW)?
The Access to Work programme is a Jobcentre Plus grant scheme, which assists disabled people who are in paid employment, or with Job/Work Trial, by providing practical support in overcoming work related obstacles resulting from their disability.
What does the Access to Work Grant cover?
The amount of help which you may receive from Access to Work will vary depending on how long you have been employed, what support you need and whether you are self-employed.
Access to Work can pay up to 100 per cent of the approved costs if you are:
- unemployed and starting a new job
- working for an employer and have been in the job for less than six weeks
Whatever your employment status, Access to Work will also pay up to 100 per cent of the approved costs of help with:
- support workers
- fares to work
- communicator support at interview
Access to Work pays a proportion of the costs of support if all of the following apply to you:
- you're working for an employer
- you've been in the job for six weeks or more
- you need special equipment
The precise level of cost sharing is determined as follows:
- employers with 1 to 9 employees will not be expected to share costs
- employers with 10 to 49 employees will pay the first £300 and 20 per cent of costs up to £10,000
- employers with 50 to 249 employees will pay the first £500 and 20 per cent of costs up to £10,000
- large employers with 250 or more employees will pay the first £1,000 and 20 per cent of costs up to £10,000
What can a Deaf person expect from Access to Work?
These questions were put forward by interpreters and consumers in 2010. The replies have been provided by an advisor from Access to Work (DWP). They are intended as general advice. All details should be checked with the individual's Access to Work advisor where possible.
(ASLI - asli.org.uk)
Q. Does a deaf person have to be employed to get support from a Sign Language Interpreter? Can they get one when the deaf person is unemployed but going for job interviews?
A. AtW support is available for eligible customers who are employed or at interviews for employment.
Q. Does AtW pay for interpreters at a job interview? Does this include interviews arranged by the deaf person as well as interviews booked through the Job Centre?
A. AtW can pay for an interpreter at an interview if the customer applies for the support before the interview. The AtW team may ask for proof of the interview, for example the invitation letter from the prospective employer.
Q. How long does an AtW assessment take?
A. The assessment process begins as soon as the application is received.
Q. Action on Hearing Loss (RNID) can offer a review service for a person's needs within a 2 week period. Is this correct and will AtW follow the suggestions given by them?
A. All external assessments have a turn around of 10 working days but the overall length of time depends on the customer's individual circumstances.
Q. How are the deaf person's needs assessed?
A. AtW does not set a limit on the number of hours that can be funded. The customer's needs in their job are assessed and funding is identified to support the individual's needs. The level of funding determined by an AtW assessment is the amount estimated to be required to fund the customer's support needs over a 3 year period.
Q. When the deaf person's hours have been agreed how are they allocated, e.g. per week, month or annual basis?
A. The level of funding determined by an AtW assessment is the amount required to fund the customer's support needs over a 3 year period.
Q. The application process is not very accessible for deaf people who use BSL. How can you help with this?
A. In line with the DDA AtW makes reasonable adjustments to make sure that all customers can access the service.
Q. Does AtW pay for Sign Language Interpreters for office support and meetings (e.g. supervision, staff/team meeting, one-to-one meetings etc)?
A. Yes, as part of assessing the customer's needs the adviser will assess the need for support in all aspects of the job.
Q. If a deaf person is self employed, can they ask AtW for the provision
and/or payment of an interpreter to assist with communication at a business meeting or other meeting?
A. AtW support is available to self employed people to support work activities.
Q. Are interpreters only provided during office hours (e.g. 9am- 5pm) or can the support be flexible to suit the deaf person's working hours?
A. AtW does not limit the times of day for which interpreter support can be funded. The needs of the customer in their job are assessed.
Q. Is there a limit to how many hours interpreter support a deaf person can get?
A. AtW does not set a limit on the number of hours that can be funded. The customer's needs in their job are assessed and funding is identified to support the individual's needs.
Q. Is there a minimum amount of hours the deaf person can get interpreter support through the AtW scheme?
A. The AtW scheme does not define any minimum or maximum number of hours. However interpreters have minimum charges and cannot be expected to work continuously for many hours.
Q. What is the maximum amount that is acceptable to be paid for an interpreter e.g. £35.00 per hour? What about additional travel costs for car/public transport?
A. AtW does not set a limit on the number of hours that can be funded. The customer's needs in their job are assessed and funding is identified to support the individual's needs. The rate used to calculate the funding required will be based on estimates from local service providers. AtW can pay mileage costs for a car at 25p per mile.
Q. What if the deaf person wants to employ a particular interpreter to work with them but AtW says the interpreter's fees are outside of the allowed budget? Does AtW recognise the deaf person's right to appropriately qualified interpreter support?
A. AtW advisers follow guidance that includes a table indicating the level of interpreter qualification suitable for various types of work activity. Where suitable qualified support is available from a range of sources the advisor has a duty to the tax payer to make sure that the funding provided is matched to the most cost effective supplier's rate. The customer has the freedom to choose to use the supplier they prefer but the reimbursement provided by AtW will be limited to the rate quoted by the most cost effective supplier.
Q. Who will pay the interpreter's cancellation fee if the deaf person cancels a booking, or if the booking is cancelled for some reason?
A. It will depend on the reason for the cancellation; claims can be considered if the cancellation of the required support is unavoidable and not caused by the actions of the Interpreter or by the improvidence of the employer. If a customer is unhappy with a decision they can ask for that decision to be reviewed by a more senior manager within AtW.
Q. Who is responsible for paying for the interpreter when a deaf person attends a training course? Are they part funded by AtW and the employer, or does the organisation providing the training pay from their own budget?
A. The training provider has a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to ensure access to the training. In some circumstances the level of support required may more than it is reasonable to expect the trainer to provide. In these cases AtW funding can be available.
Q. What happens if the deaf person doesn't use all of their allocated hours of support (e.g. if the deaf person is ill or if their work changes)
A. AtW does not allocate a number of hours that can be funded. AtW refunds the actual costs incurred. A customer has no underlying entitlement to the AtW funding if they have not needed some of the support identified in the original assessment.
Q. What happens if the numbers of allocated hours are not enough?
A. AtW does not allocate a number of hours that can be funded. If the initial estimate of funding is too low the adviser can request the authorisation of additional funding.
Q. What happens if the deaf person goes over the number of hours allocated?
A If a customer requires more hours of support than were agreed in the initial assessment then they should tell AtW about the change in their circumstances that has led to the increased support needs. The AtW adviser will consider if additional support funding is required.
Q. When can the deaf person have a review of the allocation of the number of hours?
A. The AtW team will do a full review of the customer's support needs every 3 years. A simpler review is done every year. The customer must report any change in their circumstances. This may also result in their support needs being reviewed.
Q. When are the reviews carried out?
A. Review dates are based on the start date of the AtW award. This will be around the time that the customer started using the service.
Q. Does AtW pay for all interpreters charges or is there a part contribution from the employer?
A. To help make sure that the limited AtW funding is available to as many customers as possible, advisers will ask employers to consider contributing to the costs of support.
Q. If a company has paid costs direct to the interpreter when should they submit the paperwork for claiming back monies to AtW?
A. Where possible we prefer AtW claims to be submitted on a monthly basis.
Q. Does the employer pay the interpreters costs and then reclaim the cost back from AtW or does AtW pay the interpreters direct?
A. AtW funding is used to refund employers and customers for the extra costs they have incurred.
Q. How long is the min/max time period when money will be repaid back to either the interpreter or employer?
A. Where possible we prefer AtW claims to be submitted on a monthly basis. Customers and employers should send in their claim forms as soon as is reasonably practicable after they have incurred costs.
Q. Is the repayment to interpreter/employer as charged or is there a reduction of the fee because of employee/employer contributions?
A. AtW will refund the portion of the costs that was agreed by the adviser.
Q. Does the interpreter need to sign off any paperwork as proof that they have undertaken the booking or is their invoice enough?
A. This will depend on the customer's circumstances. If the customer is self- employed, the interpreter should countersign the customer's claim form. For customers who are employed, their employer countersigns the claim.
Q. Does the interpreter need to submit their invoice to employer/employee for authorisation/verification or to AtW direct.
A. The interpreter should submit their invoice to the person or organisation who employed them.
Q. What can the deaf person do if they are unhappy with their AtW award or any other issue about their support?
A. If a customer is unhappy with a decision they can ask for that decision to be reviewed by a more senior manager within Access to Work.
For all queries about Access to Work please click here.
For information about Access to Work in BSL please click here.