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Access to Work for small business owners and entrepreneurs

Access to Work is a hot topic at the moment, it’s being talked about a lot by gurus and agencies, but what exactly is it, who is eligible and what’s involved? 

In this blog I will be delving into the intricacies of Access to Work (ATW) funding in the UK. If you’re navigating the world of self-employment and employment with neurodivergence, a disability or a health condition, this might just be the support you’ve been looking for; this government support scheme could be a vital resource in your toolkit.

The government definition as of April 2024 is: 

Access to Work can help you get or stay in work if you have a physical or mental health condition or disability.

The support you get will depend on your needs. Through Access to Work, you can apply for:

  • a grant to help pay for practical support with your work
  • support with managing your mental health at work
  • money to pay for communication support at job interviews

What is Access to Work? 

So what exactly is ATW funding? ATW is a form of financial assistance provided by the UK government to facilitate thriving at work or in your business for individuals with neurodivergence, disabilities or health challenges. It serves to cover expenses related to essential aids, adaptations, and support services necessary for effective job performance. Think of it as your backstage pass to getting the tools and adaptations you need to thrive on the job.

Who is eligible for Access to Work?

The current eligibility requirements are as follows: 

  • Be over 16
  • Have a physical or mental health condition or disability that means you need support to do your job. You do not need a formal diagnosis.
    This could be:
    • Physical disability
    • Learning disability 
    • Neurodivergence 
    • Mental health conditions 
    • Dyslexia 
    • Illness 
  • Be in paid work or have a small business
  • Live and work in England, Scotland or Wales – It’s different for those in Northern Ireland.

What can Access to Work be used for? 

The potential benefits of ATW funding are significant. It can offset the costs of various accommodations, including assistive technology, support personnel such as interpreters or virtual assistants, and modifications to the workplace environment.

Funding can be utilised for a variety of purposes, ranging from acquiring specialised gear, adjusting your workspace to suit your needs, providing software to help you or paying for a support worker in the form of a VA or other person to help you with the day to day aspects you’re struggling with. This adaptability enables you to overcome any obstacles you may encounter on your journey.

Examples of things you could use funding for (condition dependant) include: 

  • Desk 
  • Ergonomic Chair 
  • Monitor 
  • Grammarly 
  • Transcription Software 
  • Mental health support
  • Virtual Assistant 
  • Interpreter 
  • Job Coach
  • Disability Awareness Training

How do I apply for Access to Work funding? 

To access ATW funding, you simply apply on the government website. you’ll need to fill out some online forms and provide documentation, such as medical evidence and employment details. Be aware of 3rd party links and only go through the government website – this ensures you are not subject to any scams. 

If you are struggling with the application process you could look at engaging with third-party agencies offering assistance with the ATW application process. While they can be helpful, proceed with caution – some of these agencies might take a slice of your funding. Remember, you’re not obligated to use them, so weigh up your options carefully.

The forms you have to fill out might seem overwhelming and scary but it’s definitely worth it. If you need any advice on filling out the forms or going through the application process, get in touch, there’s no catch, no strings, no nothing, I just want to help anybody going through the Access to Work process get what they’re entitled to. 

There are alternative avenues for guidance available, you could reach out to disability support organisations or employment advisors for a helping hand. These resources can offer valuable insights and assistance in navigating the application process.

If you’re employed, it’s worth brushing up on your rights under the Equality Act 2010. This nifty piece of legislation ensures that folks with disabilities are treated fairly in the workplace and entitled to reasonable adjustments from their employers.

Anything else?

Pro tip: Keep your paperwork game strong. You’ll want to stay on top of all those receipts and correspondence with the DWP to keep things running smoothly.

Last but not least, stay in the loop. Keep your eye out for any updates or changes to the ATW scheme. The application process and the waiting period can take a while and sometimes they change things mid application, this is fine but it’s better to be prepared. 

In a nutshell, Access to Work funding can be a game-changer for individuals facing disabilities or health challenges in the world of self-employment or employment. By navigating the application process wisely and tapping into available resources, you can make the most of this government support initiative.

If you have any other questions or just want a sounding board, just pop me an email. I’ve supported many people with Access to Work applications, offer support work with those who have been awarded a grant and receive Access to Work funding myself for my own conditions. I can help you make sense of the journey. 

Ana x 

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