Funding cap increased by £15,000 in scheme to help disabled people into work

Hundreds of disabled people are set to benefit from a £15,000 boost to a cap on funding provided in a flagship scheme to help people into work.

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has announced a £57,200 limit on funding awarded through Access to Work.

This marks a 36% rise on the existing cap of £42,100.

Ms McVey said: "We believe that disabled people should have every opportunity to thrive in the workplace, and the tailored support of Access to Work caters to every individual's unique needs.

"By extending this grant we're ensuring that many more disabled people can reach their career potential, which is a key part of our commitment to getting one million more disabled people in work by 2027."

Access to Work provides cash payments to help disabled people find and keep jobs, paying for things such as transport, workplace adaptations and support workers.

The cap, which was introduced to new claimants in October 2015, will apply to existing claimants from April and has been limited to one-and-a-half times the national average salary.

The Department for Work and Pensions says the cap will allow the programme to help as many people as possible, with funding for the scheme on the rise.

  • 2007/08 - 23,810

  • 2008/09 - 26,240

  • 2009/10 - 29,650

  • 2010/11 - 25,860

  • 2011/12 - 22,100

  • 2012/13 - 22,870

  • 2013/14 - 25,060

  • 2014/15 - 24,360

  • 2015/16 - 23,190

  • 2016/17 - 25,020

However, campaigners argue the cap will hit deaf people and those with high needs especially hard, limiting funding for specialist support such as sign language interpreters.

A legal challenge has been launched against the cap, which at the moment only applies to new claimants.

A report by Inclusion London last year found 90% of those affected by the cap will be deaf.

In a statement, the UK Council on Deafness said: "We are pleased to see that the Department for Work and Pensions has decided to significantly raise the Access to Work cap.

"This will help deaf people whose first language is British Sign Language (BSL) to access the communication support so vital to enabling them to thrive and succeed in the workplace."

A 2004 Government review suggested for every £1 of money spent on Access to Work, £1.48 was generated for the Treasury.

The same review recommended the scheme should be "transformed from being the best kept secret in Government to being a recognised passport to successful employment".

The £57,200 cap will take effect from next month.