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Access to Work Question and Answer Session

Your Questions Answered by Access to Work on apprenticeships, traineeships and more.

Disabled People’s Organisations and individuals put questions to senior officers in the DWP responsible for Access to Work - Rilesh Jadeja, Head of Access to Work Delivery and Stuart Edwards, Access to Work Strategy Lead.

For more information on Access to Work see our free factsheet

Questions were raised by individuals and DPO’s including Action on Disability, Enfield Disability Action and Greenwich Association of Disabled People on the following issues:

Q: In 2015 the Government announced plans to make 25,000 more places available for Access to Work by 2020. Could you tell us about progress so far in promoting Access to Work for people doing apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience?

 A: Besides employment and apprenticeship support, there are three programmes that qualify for AtW: supported internships; traineeships and self –directed work experience along with Jobcentre Plus promoted work-trials. There is a steep growth in the 16- 24 olds group being supported.  Since 2015/16 we are also offering personal budgets to allow people more freedom over how they use their awards. Alongside this the department is developing AtW specific marketing campaign.

Q: Do you have plans for further promotion, to increase those numbers?  

A: As already mentioned we are developing our marketing plan which will also target employers.  Alongside this we will soon launch our on-line application service & this too will be heavily featured in the aforementioned marketing plan.  Clearly, as before, we are grateful for user led organisations help promote AtW.

Q: How do disabled people, colleges, skills providers and employers get to know about Access to Work being available for apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience?

 A: See previous answers on marketing the service.

Q: Who can help spread the word?

 A: Recipients of AtW can assist in spreading the word along with DPULO’s

Q: How many disabled people doing apprenticeships get Access to Work now and do you have a breakdown by impairment group?

A: We currently do not have a breakdown in apprenticeships, as this is considered work. We are committed to provide better access to apprenticeships particularly for people with learning disabilities. We will aim to capture the number of apprenticeships by disability.

Q: How long does it take for an application to be processed?

 A: The application time has been shortened. ATW is committed to respond within 5 days from the point of contact with an average response of 2.5 days. Our ambition is to make a decision as soon as possible – provided all the required information is available.  Well over 90% of decisions are made within 12 working days. If forms are incomplete, incorrectly filled in or medical evidence absent then ATW will make three attempts to get in touch with individuals. Individuals have up to 4 weeks to return the papers.

Q: What are the percentages of claims refused for different impairments ? Do deaf people have a higher percentage?

 A:  ATW does not pay attention to any group of people when assessing applications. There are a small number of applications covering a range of impairments which are not pursued – largely because such individuals may not be eligible.

Q: is there a limit on the weekly hours an individual can get support?

A: We do not set a limit on the weekly hours an individual can get support.  The support package is agreed based on an individual’s need.

Q: Access to Work can provide accessible equipment where appropriate, but what about maintenance, repairs and replacements?

A: The purchaser is responsible for all:

  • insurance
  • maintenance
  • running costs including the cost of repair or replacement of parts.

However, in all cases we would weigh up the cost of repair versus replacement – meaning we would fund the cost of replacing the equipment should this be the most cost effective option.

Q: Who is responsible for providing the access support for job interviews  – the organisation doing the recruiting or does the individual claim via AtW?

A: We would support applications for communication support for interviews if this is not provided by the employer,

Q: During training, D/deaf employees need two interpreters co-working as it is too intensive for one interpreter. Will AtW accept this?

A: We already provide this level of support when it is clearly needed.  AtW support is customised based on individual need and this can easily be reviewed and thereafter support grant is tailored accordingly.

Q: What training do AtW advisers have and are user led organisations involved in the training?

A: We have an intensive training programme – supported by awareness sessions delivered by user led organisations.

Q: Supported internships are often a natural progression into work for people with learning difficulties, but the work related to administering the plan and fill in the time sheets is time consuming, what has AtW done to improve this?

A: Supported internships are growing and AtW will be updating and changing the support plan to minimise administration times.

3-How can AtW and DfE solve the big issue around the reasonable adjustment for work experience candidates who will not be getting a job offer at the end of their placement but this experience will be vital to future employment success

A: Individuals can do work experience for up to six months if there is a realistic prospect of employment. For example an employer may not have a job at present, but might be able to offer employment in three months time. Work experience can prepare a candidate to apply for the job. Individuals can do a supported internship if there is a realistic prospect of employment.

Q: How do we advertise this to all employers that the full costs of adjustments will be paid within 6 weeks of the take up of the job regardless of the size of the company? This will be important when we are promoting internships and apprenticeship programs for disabled candidates to employers.

A: Within DWP we have expertise in promoting our services to employers and working to ensure that AtW is marketed as effectively as it could.

Q: what about self- employment?

A: self- employment rules were overhauled in October 2015.

We welcome applications from individuals who are Self Employed and who meet the eligibility criteria. 

Q:It usually takes few weeks to get ATW funding and this is too long for the employer and the candidate, what can ATW to make sure the support has been agreed and provisions in place before the candidate takes up the employment? This can be easily done if the candidate knows which sector he/she will be working in. Can ATW set up a dedicated team to deal with young disabled job seekers and fast track their requests? This will ensure we get the provisions and support in place in time to maximise their chances of success.

A: The funding is available immediately once the decision to award is made.  This is usually within 10-12 days.  The delays, when they occur, are often due to lateness in receipt of invoices.