Access to Work is a government scheme to help people with disabilities or long-term health conditions to overcome work-related obstacles.

If you have a diagnosis of bipolar, you can apply for the scheme to help you to get a new job or to help you improve your working life in your current job.

Don't forget that our peer support team can answer any work-related questions you may have. Just email them at [email protected] or book a 1-1 call

If you apply for the scheme, we'd love to know what you applied for and whether you're successful or not. Please tell us about your experiences by emailing [email protected]

Who can apply?

Access to Work is open to anyone in the UK who has a disability or a health condition expected to last for at least 12 months. There is no upper age limit for support, as long as the employment is expected to continue.

Can someone who’s self-employed apply?

Yes, anyone who’s employed or self-employed can apply. There's no minimum number of working hours required. However, someone needs to be earning at least the National Minimum Wage rate for each hour worked.

What are the benefits of applying?

The Access to Work scheme is designed to help anyone with a long-term health condition overcome any work-related obstacles linked the condition.

This scheme can provide essential support to help someone stay in work. The aim is to ensure that a disability does not stop someone from working effectively.

When can someone apply?

Anyone with a long-term health condition can apply if they’re looking for work, starting a new job, going for a job interview, entering a job/work trial or already in employment.

What can the funding cover?

Access to Work can provide funding for practical support, such as specialist equipment, support workers (like British Sign Language interpreters or job coaches), travel costs, practical adaptations to your car, van or workplace environment and mental health support.

Access to Work cannot provide funding for ‘reasonable adjustments’, such as wheelchair ramps or accessible bathroom facilities. Employers are legally responsible to cover these costs under the Equality Act.

How long does an application take?

An application can take between 3-9 months to complete. After applying online or by phone, an Access to Work assessor reviews the needs. They may request additional information, speak to your employer or assess your workplace. The exact timeline may depend on the complexity of your situation and the specific accommodations required.

How do I apply?

There’s an online form on the government’s official Access to Work website which asks for details about the health condition and its impact in the workplace. There is also a phoneline for 1-1 support to answer any questions or to fill in an application.

Can someone apply if they're already getting benefits?

Yes. Applying for or receiving funding through the Access to Work scheme doesn’t affect any other benefits or grants you’re getting.

Does the Access to Work grant need to be repaid?

No. Any funding received through the scheme does not need to be repaid.

How much funding is available?

The amount of funding received from Access to Work varies based on employment status, the duration of employment and the specific support needed. The maximum grant is £66,000 a year, although most grants are much lower.

How is mental health support provided?

Mental health support through Access to Work is typically offered through a tailored plan to help someone find or stay in employment. This may include one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional.

What if the health condition changes when someone is in employment?

The Access to Work scheme is designed to be adaptable to changing needs. Assessors are always on hand to discuss any adjustments and updates required.

Last updated: 22 November 2023