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Is there money to support me at work?

Photo: Access to Work covers the support costs your employer may not be able to provide

With the right support you can do almost any job role.

Some deaf people rely on communication support or assistive technology to do their job. This support can be funded by the government through the Access to Work scheme run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

The scheme is really important because it can cover the costs of support your employer might not be able to provide as part of the reasonable adjustments they legally have to make.

To apply for an Access to Work grant you must:

  • Have a disability or health condition that makes it hard to do parts of your job or get to and from work. Deafness is included in the definition of a disability.
  • Be 16 or over.
  • Live in England, Scotland or Wales. There’s a different scheme in Northern Ireland.

You cannot get Access to Work if you live in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

You will need to have a paid job, or be about to start or return to one.

A paid job can include:

  • Full or part-time work.
  • Permanent or temporary work, including zero hours contracts.
  • Self-employed work.
  • An apprenticeship, traineeship or supported internship.
  • A work trial or work experience that is paid, or expected to lead to a paid role.
  • A paid internship.

You cannot get Access to Work for volunteering or most unpaid work.

Certain benefits can affect whether you can receive Access to Work. If you receive Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support you can receive Access to Work if you work more than one hour a week. If you receive Employment and Support Allowance you can only receive Access to Work if you are doing 'permitted work'. 

When you’re applying for jobs, you can mention either at the application stage or in your interview that Access to Work may be available to you.

If you have an interview and need communication support you could use Access to Work. Communication support is the only support Access to Work will fund for interviews. To apply for funding for an interview you will need to complete a different form.

If you’ve been offered a paid job you don’t have to wait to start before applying for Access to Work. You can apply as soon as you receive your job offer. 

You cannot get Access to Work for volunteer work or unpaid work experience.

You can apply for Access to Work online or by phone, including textphone and NGT text relay. They also have a BSL video relay service.

You’ll need to provide:

  • your work address and postcode
  • the name of a person at work who can authorise your Access to Work payments
  • the named person’s email address or work phone number

You’ll also need to explain:

  • how being deaf and any other conditions affect you at work or getting to work
  • what help you’re already getting
  • what else could help you

It can be difficult to explain or even know the different ways being deaf can affect you at work and what options there are that could help you. This is particularly true if you’re starting a new job or your role changes.

Your job description should include details of the different tasks you’ll be doing. It may help to look at it with someone you trust who has a good understanding of your deafness and how it affects you in other areas of your life.

We have information about technology at work and different types of communication support, which might give you an idea of the support you would want Access to Work grant to pay for.

It may also help to speak to your manager about your role, what they can do to help you at work and reasonable adjustments.  

The support you’ll be offered through Access to Work will depend on your needs. After you submit your application an Access to Work adviser will contact you to discuss what help you could get. They may also speak to your employer, but will ask for your permission first. An Access to Work assessor can also visit you at work to assess your needs. An assessor would write a report and share this with your adviser.  

An Access to Work grant can help to pay for equipment or services including:

  • adaptations to the equipment you use – for example, Twm was given an adapted headset that blocks out background noise for his role as an HR advisor.
  • special equipment or software.
  • British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, video relay service support, lip speakers and note takers - like Mariam who uses ATW to fund interpreters for her role with Barclay's graduate scheme.
  • a job coach to support you to settle into your workplace.
  • deaf or disability awareness training for your colleagues.

Access to Work can also help assess whether there is more your employer can do to support you through reasonable adjustments.

You can read about support provided through Access to Work for deaf people doing different jobs featured in our Families magazine.  

You can also get confidential support and advice from a trained healthcare professional from the Mental Health Support Service. You do not need to have a diagnosed condition to use the service.

Access to Work can pay support workers directly. Alternatively, you or your employer will need to pay for the items or service you need and then Access to Work will pay you back. If some of the costs are to be covered by your employer or the NHS then this amount will be taken off what is paid back. 

Your Access to Work grant will normally be reviewed every year to see if your needs have changed. A grant can last for up to three years.

If your grant is ending soon you'll need to reapply to renew it. You can apply up to 12 weeks before the current grant ends. As long as you still need the support you should continue to receive it.

If your job changes or you feel the support you need has changed you need to let Access to Work know.

You’ll also need to tell Access to Work if any of your contact details change. For example, if you get a new phone number.

To report a change you can contact your Access to Work adviser directly or the Access to Work helpline.

You can’t appeal an Access to Work decision, but you can ask for it to be looked at by a different Access to Work adviser. To arrange this you need to contact Access to Work using the details at the top of your award letter.

If you're unhappy with the service you’ve received from Access to Work you can make a complaint using the Department for Work and Pensions complaints procedure.

If you are a deaf young person and have a problem with an Access to Work application or decision please contact our Helpline.