Access to Work cap raised

Esther McVey has announced that the maximum cap on Access to Work payments will be raised to £57,000 per year. This is a £15,000 rise on the current cap which was introduced in 2015. The new cap will apply to new claimants from April 2018. The new cap will now become double the average annual wage.

Inclusion London argues that "that any form of cap is inappropriate and discriminatory. Any cap hits those with the highest support needs, effectively penalising Deaf and Disabled people with the highest support needs and impacting most on certain impairment groups."

BASE welcomes the rise but recognises the concerns around Access to Work, particularly regarding its impact on people using BSL services. Many of our members have experienced extreme difficulties with applying for Access to Work payments on behalf of their clients and we continue to engage with DWP to seek improvement to the application and claims processes. 

The Secretary of State announced a number of other changes to the Access to Work programme:

  • extra support to customers with high-value awards via automatic workplace assessments promoting available technology and reasonable adjustments and voluntary cost-share from employers as well as signposting to advice and guidance provided by third parties;
  • working with stakeholders to co-produce guidance and share best practice as well as continued monitoring of the impacts on the cap;
  • discretion in exceptional cases of multiple disability, to consider award limits averaged over a longer period – for example where a customer’s on-going need for a support worker may be below the cap but when coupled with a periodic need for say a wheelchair, would exceed the cap in that year;
  • introduction of managed personal budgets to enable greater choice and control for customers in the way grants are spent;
  • taking applications 12 weeks ahead of a job start date rather than the current six weeks to allow more time for support to be agreed and put in place;
  • continuing to invest in digital improvements such as developing the facility to submit invoices online;
  • allowing more flexibility in how people can use Access to Work to support short periods of work experience where there is a likelihood of a paid job in the near future; and
  • encouraging uptake of technological solutions that can both reduce costs and promote independence, we will allow risk free trials of technological solutions so that customers can revert to their old award if they wish, and also introduce a “Tech Fund” that will mean the mandatory cost-sharing contributions from employers for such items are waived where their use will save the taxpayer money.