To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the oral contribution of the Minister for Disabled People to the Work and Pensions Committee on 29 October 2014, Qq275-6, what estimate she has made of the contribution to the public purse for every £1 spent on the Access to Work programme.
Access to Work is a demand-led, discretionary grant to de-risk the recruitment and retention of disabled people for employers. The grant contributes to the disability related extra costs of working faced by disabled people and those with a health condition that are beyond reasonable adjustment, but it does not replace an employer’s duty under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments. Access to Work is a popular and well regarded programme, and in 2018/19 the official Access to Work statistics illustrated the increase in support provided by Access to Work, as the highest ever number of people received payments, 36,240, up 7% on 17/18. Expenditure increased to £129.1 million, equating to a 14% increase in real terms expenditure on 17/18.
A number of studies have explored various aspects of Access to Work but no definitive impact evaluation has taken place. Being in work brings advantages for disabled people, including independence, income, improved confidence, social interaction and mental health and wellbeing, and if the benefits of the Access to Work programme exceed its costs the whole economy will benefit from a financial boost. The 2018 Access to Work Qualitative Research found that the support provided was especially valued and often came at a point of crisis when people might otherwise have fallen out of work. But currently there is no robust cost benefit analysis available, the 2018 ‘Feasibility of Evaluating the Impact of the Access to Work Programme’ Report (please see link below), found that to pursue this analysis would be expensive and require a very large survey sampling exercise which is not feasible at present.