Employers have a responsibility to consider how they can create a workplace culture that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone. To that end, the government set up the Access to Work Scheme in 1994 to help people with disabilities take up and remain in work. In this article, we discuss what the Access to Work Scheme and the Mental Health Support Services are, and the type of interventions and support they cover.
What is the Access to Work Scheme and the Mental Health Support Service?
The aim of the scheme is to ensure employers make reasonable adjustments in the workplace so employees with physical disabilities and mental health conditions can perform well in their jobs. Around 14% of the beneficiaries of the Access to Work Scheme are people with mental health conditions which is why a Mental Health Support Service was introduced in 2011. This part of the scheme, which is delivered by Remploy and Able Futures, is specifically designed to help those with mental health conditions by providing tailored support, advice, and coping strategies to help people retain their jobs.
How do the schemes work?
According to Disability Rights UK, to be eligible for the scheme, the applicant must have a disability or condition that interferes with their ability to complete normal day-to-day activities. The scheme provides the applicant with financial support that will cover their needs. The current annual cap for the amount of support a person can receive is £62,900, according to GovUK. The applicant or employer will have to pay for the initial outlay but the money can be claimed back. The application for the Access to Work scheme can be done online, through this link, and alternative ways of applying are also available.
What services and interventions does the scheme cover?
The scheme offers a wide range of interventions depending on the needs of each individual. For example, a person with a long-term mental health condition is eligible for tailored mental health support plans, an assessment of their needs, and advice on implementing suitable coping strategies. Someone with a physical disability could receive financial support that would cover the cost of specialised equipment, or help towards the additional cost of taxi fares if the person is unable to take public transport to work.
The Access to Work Scheme now also offers support for people with disabilities that need equipment or help to overcome barriers to working from home, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This article was written by Sarahjayne Clements who is passionate about spreading awareness about chronic illnesses and campaigning for change and equality. Sarahjayne loves researching, writing, archaeology, and reading a good book.