New tool will allow users to apply for and claim payments
Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire/PA Images
The Department for Work and Pensions is to launch a new online service through which citizens can obtain support and payments through the Access to Work programme.
The scheme provides grants to help cover the cost of “practical support” that can assist people with disabilities or health conditions in their working lives. Money may be awarded for transport or workspace adaptations, or for the cost of a support worker or coach.
Access to Work can also provide grants for the delivery of “communication support at job interviews” – such as British sign language interpreters or assigned note-takers. The programme also offers advice about “managing your mental health at work”.
An existing digital service allows users to apply for grants but the process of claiming payments remains paper-based.
In recent months, the DWP has worked to develop a new online platform that will allow users to submit and make claims, keep tabs on their status, and see how much of a previously awarded grant is left.
According to minister for disabled people, health and work, Chloe Smith, the service will open shortly to a select group of users, before being rolled out widely in 2022.
“We have extensively tested and iterated designs for this service with a range of users to ensure it is inclusive, usable and meets the needs of Access to Work recipients,” she said, in answer to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Lilian Greenwood. “We will begin testing this new service with a small number of users soon before scaling up next year.”
In answer to a question posed in September by another Labour MP, Vicky Foxcroft, Smith’s ministerial predecessor Justin Tomlinson said that the new web-based tool will form part of a wider revamp.
“Aside from the online claims portal we also have plans to transform the complete end-to-end journey, including agent-facing systems, in order to improve usability, accessibility and efficiency across the whole service,” he said.