Access to Work

Funding for support for disabled staff is the responsibility of the individual’s department. Much support can be arranged at little or no cost.  Where there are significant costs involved, external funding may also be available through the Access to Work Scheme (ATW), run by the Department of Work and Pensions.  However since ATW requires large employers such as the University to meet the first £1000 of equipment costs, it may not be worth applying if total costs are likely to fall below this threshold.

People employed by colleges can apply for Access to Work funding too.

Please talk to the Staff Disability Advisor, about the kinds of support that may be available, and the application process.   Email  (Please note that the Disability Advisor works part-time in the EDU and may not be able to respond immediately).

New starters

If you contact them before you start or during the first six weeks of employment, ATW will normally meet 100% approved costs. Contact ATW as soon as you accept a job offer, to ensure that any support is in place before you start, and to reduce the costs incurred by the employer.

• Check that your employer agrees to share costs before you apply

 ATW requires an employer to share the costs of Special Aids and Equipment and Adaptations to Premises.  A large employer like the University of Oxford is expected to pay the first £1,000 of costs and 20% costs above that threshold up to £10,000.  These costs would normally be met by your department.  Cost-sharing is not required for other types of ATW support.   See the Access to Work factsheet for employers

• You contact Access to Work to request support

Tel. 0345 268 8489 (Textphone: 0845 608 8753), Email:

Online form:

ATW staff may arrange to call you back. They may ask for your National Insurance number;  workplace address including the postcode;  date of birth; contact details; line manager’s contact details and finally details of any difficulties you have at work due to your disability or health condition.

• You are assigned an ATW Adviser

Your ATW Adviser contacts you to discuss your needs.  If these are straightforward, this may all be done by telephone.

• You may have a workplace needs assessment

Your ATW Adviser may arrange for an assessor  to visit you at work to discuss your role and support needs. They will write a report for ATW recommending support.

• You get a letter from ATW stating what costs they will meet

Once ATW has agreed the recommendations they will send you and your manager a letter stating which costs they will meet. ATW may also ask you to sign and return a copy of the letter/declaration before they agree to release funds and send claim forms. 

• Your department purchases the agreed support

Do not buy anything before ATW has agreed to refund costs. For more expensive items, the report may include three quotations, although ATW will only agree to meet the lowest cost. Details of suppliers are included in the ATW report, but your department may use an alternative supplier who is already on the Supplier Database. 

• Your department submits a claim for reimbursement to ATW and is repaid

Your department sends a completed ATW claim form, together with certified copies of receipts. Where ongoing support has been agreed, monthly claims should be submitted.  Your department should raise an invoice to ATW when claiming repayment, so that finance staff know what sums to expect.  ATW will reimburse its share of costs.  All claiims should be submitted before the specified deadline in the letter agreeing support.

For ongoing support, such as a support worker or travel to work,  claims should be submitted monthly. 

ATW may refuse claims that are submitted outside the agreed time period.

Types of support funded by ATW

  • Special Aids and Equipment e.g. assistive software;
  • Adaptations to Premises and Equipment;
  • Travel to Work e.g. taxis if someone cannot use public transport due to a disability;
  • Travel in Work i.e. support with travel you need to do for work;
  • Support Worker;
  • Communication Support e.g. a British Sign Language Interpreter;
  • Mental Health Support.

Examples of support received by members of the University

  • An employee with dyslexia received text-to-speech software and training (paid for by the department) and workplace strategies training (paid in full by ATW).
  • An employee with a long-term medical condition was recommended a new desk chair and magnification software (cost-share by department and ATW). She also had help with travel to work by taxi (paid in full by ATW).
  • Some members of staff have support workers who provide help with tasks which the individuals are unable to carry out because of their disability.