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New Tech Fund Launched to Help Get More Disabled People into Work

April 26, 2018

A new tech fund to help disabled people in the workplace has been unveiled by ministers.

The new fund through the Access to Work scheme will offer businesses potential savings of thousands of pounds when paying for assistive technology for disabled staff.

Previously, medium and large employers had to pay a mandatory contribution towards the cost of assistive technology required by disabled employees.

This cost will now be waived for all employers under the new tech fund.

Disabilities minister, Sarah Newton, said: “We know that assistive technology has the power to transform lives, helping to break down the barriers disabled people can face at work and so many other areas of their everyday lives.

“Access to Work is providing support to disabled people across the country, and I hope that through the new tech fund more disabled people and their employers will be able to benefit from advances in assistive technology that can help create more inclusive workplaces.”

The news coincides with a speech on Thursday by Ms Newton at the Naidex conference in Birmingham, Europe’s largest event for the disability sector.

Earlier this month the Work and Pensions select committee urged the Government to do more to make assistive technology more mainstream, saying it was a “silver bullet” to help disabled people find and stay in work.

It can help disabled people transform their employment prospects, MPs found, helping make phone calls, send emails and texts, travel and even cook.

Under the old rules, medium-sized employers paid the first £500 towards technological solutions and large employers paid the first £1,000, with both paying 20% of the cost thereafter up to £10,000.

Paul Luigi Giuntini, a social worker from Scotland who is registered blind and has one hand, uses assistive technology funded through Access to Work to help him in his job.

His support includes OrCam, a lightweight camera which clips onto the wearer’s glasses that can recognise faces and read from any surface in real time.

He said: “Access to Work funding is essential for disabled people, as it helps reduce the barriers and difficulties that disabled people face in trying to get into and maintain full-time employment.

Without the support of Access to Work, I would not have been able to obtain and sustain my current employment.

“I believe that this funding should be promoted so that disabled people are given every opportunity to improve their life situation.”

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.

Ministers last month lifted a proposed cap on grants awarded through the scheme to £57,200, twice the average national salary.

The cap has been challenged by critics of the scheme, who also say Access to Work has been beset with administrative issues and cuts to support in individual packages

Source: Chronicle Live