2 Marketing and funding |
13. Concerns about a lack of awareness of AtW, and
insufficient funding, are not new. In 2003 a predecessor Committee
] the Access to Work budget should be
increased by a significant proportion to reflect the number of
disabled people who want to work and who need support to enable
them to do so. We also urge the Government to embark on a much
wider publicity campaignaimed at disabled people and their
employersto increase awareness of Access to Work.
Liz Sayce believed that implementing her recommendations
could lead to a doubling of the number of people helped by AtW,
broadly within the current overall funding package for specialist
disability employment support.
14. In this chapter we examine the available information
on AtW caseloads and spending in recent years. We also consider
the likely level of unmet need and whether additional funding
for AtW could be found from elsewhere within the overall funding
package for specialist disability employment support. Finally
we consider the steps which DWP needs to take to establish the
overall cost-effectiveness of AtW, so that a strong case could
be made to HM Treasury for substantial additional funding. This
would enable much more high profile marketing of the programme
to be undertaken with the aim of satisfying the current extent
and range of unmet need.
Caseload and expenditure
15. Caseload figures are published in the AtW Official
Statistics. Programme expenditure is not routinely published,
but expenditure in recent years can be gleaned from DWP's answers
to Parliamentary Questions. AtW supported 35,450 people in 2013/14
at a total cost of £108 million. The caseload increased in
each of the last two full financial years; however, this followed
two years of decline, and the 2013/14 total is below the peak
of 37,280 reached in 2009/10. AtW caseloads and programme spend
from 2009/10 to 2013/14 are set out in the table below:
|Access to Work total caseloads and programme expenditure 2009/10-2013/14
||Total caseload||Total programme spend
Awards by impairment type
16. Liz Sayce pointed out in her review that there has long been
a perception that AtW is about providing "bits of kit"special
equipment and technologyto enable people with physical
and sensory disabilities to overcome their barriers in work. This
was echoed by witnesses to our inquiry. AtW has tended to be considered
less relevant to people with mental health problems, learning
disabilities or autism spectrum disorders.
17. The emphasis of the programme has broadened somewhat
in recent years. In 2011 DWP established an AtW Workplace Mental
Health Support Service (WMHSS), to help people who develop a mental
health issue to stay in their jobs (see chapter 3). However, it
remains the case that the programme is mostly utilised by people
with physical or sensory impairments. The 2013/14 Official Statistics
show that around 30% of AtW users have a hearing or sight impairment
(10,740 people) and about 24% have physical problems with their
arms, hands, legs, feet, back or neck (8,620 people). The number
of users who have a mental health problem has grown significantly
in recent years but remains relatively low. The number increased
from just 200 people in 2007/08 to 1,410 people in 2013/14; a
more than seven-fold increase. However, this still represents
only 4% of the total caseload. The number and proportion of AtW
users who have a learning disability is also low: 1,760 people
(5% of the caseload). The Official Statistics do not separately
identify the number of AtW users with autism spectrum disorders.
The costs of different types of
18. There are official data on the types of support
AtW provides, but very little information on the financial costs
of different elements of support is routinely published. The Official
Statistics contain a breakdown of the total number of awards by
element type. This shows that the most used type of support is
"Support Workers" (14,850 awards in 2013/14); followed
by travel to work (13,120); and aids and equipment (5,470). AtW
funds very few adaptations to premises (40) and vehicles (200).
The Official Statistics do not give any breakdown of the costs
of the different elements.
The UK Statistics Authority recently found that the coverage of
DWP's statistics on AtW is "too limited, which constrains
19. DWP emphasised that support for people with hearing
impairments accounts for a disproportionately large amount of
AtW spending: 5,250 hearing impaired service users (17% of the
total caseload) accounted for some £35 million of spending
in 2012/13 (around 35% of total expenditure).
This is largely due to the costs of BSL interpretation: a recent
DWP Freedom of Information response revealed that BSL interpretation
alone accounted for around £25 million of AtW expenditure
in 2013/14. 
The Minister confirmed that DWP had recently taken steps to address
the costs of AtW-funded BSL interpretation, but that it was DWP's
intention that AtW should continue to provide effective BSL support
(we return to this issue in chapter 4).
20. Liz Sayce noted that, while the costs of meeting
some disabled people's needs, such as those who require full-time
Support Workers, including BSL interpreters, can be very high,
the average cost of AtW per service user is not, at around £3,000
per year. Her view
was that, while it is always important to consider the most cost-effective
ways of supporting people with high cost support needs, DWP should
not cap the total amount of funding on an individual basis. She
emphasised that the number of people with very high cost support
needs was small.
DWP reported that 120 AtW awards in 2012/13 were over £40,000;
of these 60 were over £50,000.
Establishing the level of unmet
21. While it is clear that there is a large "employment
gap" between disabled people and the non-disabled population,
and that a substantial number of people fall out of work each
year due to ill health and disabilities, establishing with any
precision the number of people who might benefit from AtW is not
22. Disability Rights UK (DRUK) cited recent research
which suggests that around 4% of the disabled working age population
would have additional disability-related needs at work. If this
percentage is applied to the gap between the proportion of disabled
people in employment and the proportion of the general population
who are employed (a difference which equates to proportionately
2 million fewer disabled people in work) or to the entire economically
inactive disabled population (some 3.6 million people), it implies
a range of between 80,000 and 144,000 potential beneficiaries
of AtW. However,
Liz Sayce, now Chief Executive of DRUK, acknowledged that these
figures were uncertain, and that it is currently difficult to
estimate from official data how many of these people would require
support above the level of "reasonable adjustments"
which employers are required to provide.
23. The AtW budget is part of an overall funding
package for specialist disability employment support£350
million in the spending period to 2015/16.
This funding is part of DWP's overall Departmental Expenditure
Limit (DEL), the budget allocated for administrative costs and
programme expenditure, including employment programmes. DWP's
DEL has been reduced year on year since 2009/10 as part of the
Government's economic measures to address the budget deficit:
it was £5.4 billion in 2013/14, down from £7.4 billion
RELEASE OF RESOURCES FROM REMPLOY
24. Liz Sayce envisaged that implementing her proposals
for the closure or sale of Remploy's factories would release resources
for other forms of specialist disability employment support, including
AtW. In 2012 DWP confirmed that "savings from the policy
changes will be used for more effective and proven employment
programmes such as Access to Work, to benefit many more disabled
25. Remploy is currently a non-departmental public
body, sponsored by DWP, and receives government grant-in-aid funding,
i.e. a public subsidy. The closure or sale of Remploy's factories
following the Sayce Review was largely completed by the end of
2013. Remploy also
has an employment services arm, which places disabled people into
mainstream employment. Remploy Employment Services has become
established and successful in the market over the last 15 years.
It is currently the subject of a commercialisation process, in
which a private or third sector investor is being sought, to take
a substantial stake in the business.
26. Remploy's Annual Reports show that it received
£130 million in grant-in-aid subsidy in 2010. This had fallen
to £61.3 million by 2013 in a planned reduction following
the reorganisation recommended in the Sayce Review.
Gareth Parry of Remploy explained that its total public subsidy
is likely to have been reduced by around £80-£85 million,
compared to the 2010 figure, when the reorganisation process is
complete. He confirmed that this was set to be achieved in the
next few months, once a number of "transitional issues"
had been dealt with.
27. Despite the reduction in public funding for Remploy,
the Minister insisted that "There was not a spare £80
million lying around that could all have gone into Access to Work."
He told us that the resources released from the reorganisation
of Remploy had already been "recycled", including an
additional £15 million for AtW, announced in 2012.
He stated that funding for the other main elements of disability
employment support, Work Choice and the Work Programme, had been
"protected" during a time when savings had been made
elsewhere in DWP programme expenditure.
However, it was not immediately clear from the Minister's answers
to our questions how the remaining reduction in Remploy's subsidy
had been reallocated. The Minister later told us that "the
£80 million figure is not specifically recognised by the
Department". He reiterated that spending on specialist disability
employment support had been protected from the substantial cuts
to DWP's budgets since 2010 and that, "Had the Department
not reformed Remploy, this would not have been possible."
Information provided by DWP shows that, other than the additional
£15 million for AtW announced in 2012, the only element of
spending on disability employment support which has increased
substantially since 2011 is that for Employment and Support Allowance
claimants taking part in the Work Programme, DWP's mainstream
contracted employment programme.
28. DWP has not provided a satisfactory explanation
of how the money saved from the closure or sale of Remploy factories
has been used to increase funding for effective, specialist disability
employment support. We do not consider it appropriate to classify
spending on the Work Programme as additional funding for specialist
disability employment support. We recommend that, in response
to this Report, the Department provide further information on
how the savings from the reorganisation of Remploy have been used
to date, and that it clarifies whether it intends to increase
funding for specific areas of specialist disability employment
support, other than the Work Programme, as a result of the reorganisation
29. The Minister stated that any additional funding
for AtW before the next Spending Review period would have to come
from other employment programmes or from further administrative
savings from elsewhere within DWP's DEL. 
It should be noted that DWP's DEL is not a ring-fenced element
of government spending and may be subject to further reductions.
POTENTIAL "AME/DEL SWITCH"
30. The Minister acknowledged that implementation
of Liz Sayce's recommendation to double the AtW caseload would
require a broadly commensurate increase in funding. He indicated
that the Department was considering how this might be achieved
in the next Spending Review period (i.e. from 2016/17 onwards).
He explained that one option might be to make the case to HM Treasury
to increase funding for AtW by using DWP's much larger Annually
Managed Expenditure (AME) budget, which is for items that are
demand-led and difficult to forecast, in particular social security
expenditure. The rationale for this is that AtW is widely considered
to be cost-effective; supporting disabled people in work often
brings a long-term return to the Exchequer through reduced out-of-work
benefits and increased income tax returns. In theory DWP's larger
AME budget (£163 billion in 2013/14) could be used to substantially
increase funding for cost-effective employment programmes such
as AtW, on the understanding that this was likely to produce long-term
savings in benefits expenditure.
31. However, it should be noted that the idea of
applying an "AME/DEL switch", or "Invest to Save",
in relation to DWP's spending on employment programmes, has existed
since at least 2007.
There is no indication that HM Treasury supports the concept;
it would require a very significant change to HM Treasury's approach
to the setting of DWP's budgets.
Establishing the cost-effectiveness
of Access to Work
32. The Sayce Review cited research by disability
organisations which concluded that expenditure on AtW achieved
a return to the Exchequer of £1.48 for every £1 spent,
based on reduced social security benefits and increased income
tax take. She therefore recommended that in the longer term the
Government implement the so-called "AME/DEL switch",
as described above.
33. The Minister told us that the £1.48 figure
was not supported by official research; DWP had "not been
able to establish the workings for that figure." He indicated
that he had asked DWP officials to "undertake some analytical
work" on the cost-effectiveness of AtW because, "if
we are going to have a discussion with Treasury colleagues about
funding, we want some good evidence."
34. Larger employers contribute to the costs of AtW
funded aids and adaptations to premises, or equipment for their
employees. Employers are required to contribute 100% of the costs
up to a threshold, and 20% of costs between the relevant threshold
and £10,000. The thresholds are based on the total number
of employees a business has, as set out below:
250 or more employees: £1,000
Additional voluntary contributions are sought "where
the support provides a general business benefit" to the employer.
DWP abolished employer contributions for employers of fewer than
50 people in 2012/13, as part of a drive to encourage participation
in AtW by smaller employers, following the Sayce Review's conclusions.
35. Mike Adams told us that his expert panel's recommendation
had been to abolish employer contributions altogether to encourage
employer engagement across the board. He believed that the current
arrangements resulted in employers contributing such a small proportion
of the total cost of AtW support that the administrative costs
to DWP of collecting it were likely to be disproportionate.
The Business Disability Forum (BDF) agreed. BDF also believed
that the current arrangements caused confusion amongst employers
about the extent to which contributions were mandatory or voluntary.
However, TLT Solicitors, a nationwide employer which engages extensively
with AtW, found the current arrangements "easy to interpret"
and believed them to be "reasonable".
36. The Minister told us that DWP was considering
the employer cost-sharing arrangements as part of its internal
review. However, he was clear that the administrative costs of
collecting employers' AtW contributions were "certainly not"
greater than the total amount collected. Employers currently fund
around £7 million per year in total mandatory and voluntary
contributions. This was equivalent to the administrative costs
of running the entire AtW programme. The Minister therefore believed
that it was "not a trivial amount". However, he noted
a lack of information about the range of larger and smaller employers
taking part in the programme and their respective financial contributions.
He confirmed that he had asked DWP officials to collate data on
this. He was keen to ensure that the Department "takes full
advantage of the amount of taxpayer money we have got and the
amount of employer resource as well."
Tension between marketing and
37. Given the likely scale of unmet need and the
limited available funding, there is an inevitable tension between
marketing AtW more widely and maintaining costs within the budget.
Susan Scott-Parker of the BDF told us that her understanding,
drawn from speaking to DWP officials over the last 15 to 18 years,
was that the budget for AtW had "never been fully utilised"
and that "officials have been under pressure not to tell
too many people about it in case the demand grew." 
38. DWP again rebutted the assertion that there was
"unused money lying around".
However, the Minister did acknowledge the difficult balance between
marketing the programme more widely and ensuring that there was
sufficient funding available to meet increased demand. He also
believed that it was important to ensure that more robust administrative
structures were put in place, before any substantial expansion
of the programme (we address some of the key administrative issues
in chapter 6).
39. DWP spent around £50,000 on a 12-month "targeted
marketing campaign" from June 2012. This included:
] press releases, presentations at disability
and employer events, and articles in disability publications and
engagement in direct marketing to large employers. It also included
use of digital media, paid advertising links in popular search
engines, magazine adverts and awareness training for Jobcentre
Plus Disability Employment Advisors.
DWP believed that this activity reversed the decline
in caseload which had occurred in 2010/11 and 2011/12 and resulted
in a significant increase in visits to the AtW webpages on the
40. DWP also drew attention to its Disability
Confident campaign, which was launched in July 2013. Disability
Confident is a series of conferences and promotional material
aimed at employers. It seeks to "work with employers to remove
barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people
have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their
A central message of Disability Confident is that employers
can reap economic benefits from employing disabled people, as
well as achieving corporate social responsibility aims.
41. Notwithstanding the above, most witnesses felt
that AtW still suffered from inadequate marketing and that awareness
remained low, particularly amongst smaller employers and disabled
people with particular types of impairments. Individual service
users suggested that awareness tended to be spread by word of
mouth rather than as a result of any official marketing strategy.
The BDF, which has taken part in Disability Confident events,
believed that AtW was not featured sufficiently prominently in
the campaign. This view was supported by Remploy.
42. Improved marketing should lead to increased uptake
of AtW which in turn should begin to address the level of unmet
need. It is clear that this unmet need lies in some specific groups
of potential AtW users, including people with mental health problems,
learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, and young
people with disabilities trying to enter the labour market for
the first time. In addition, as we pointed out in our report on
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) earlier this year, a significant
number of claimants are being found fit for work as result of
the ESA process. Many of these people are likely to require in-work
support of the type AtW can help to fund, if they are to enter
and sustain employment. An expert panel involved in the trial
of an alternative assessment for ESA eligibility identified that
83% of claimants deemed fit for work would need "on average,
two or three" adjustments; and 24% would need a support worker.
We argued that the ESA process needed to be properly joined up
with effective employment support for people found fit for work
who had disabilities or ongoing health conditions.
Proactive promotion of AtW, by Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches and
contracted providers, to people leaving incapacity benefits and
trying to find work would be one step in this direction.
43. It was clear from the Minister's evidence
that DWP intends to increase the number of people helped by Access
to Work. This is welcome; the evidence strongly suggests that
Access to Work currently supports only a minority of disabled
people who might benefit from the programme. However, it was equally
clear that the Department is currently trying to increase the
Access to Work caseload within an only marginally increased budget.
We believe that there is a risk of unintended consequences from
this approach, because focusing on the number of people being
helped while trying to remain within a tightly constrained budget
might result in DWP bearing down on the awards of current service
users who happen to require relatively high cost support, to the
detriment of meeting their needs effectively. We welcome the Minister's
assurance that this is not DWP's intention. The focus of the programme
should remain addressing the range of barriers faced by disabled
people, including the relatively few people whose support needs
are currently high cost. We agree with the Minister that a substantial
increase in the number of people Access to Work helps is likely
to require a broadly commensurate increase in the available funding.
44. It is not currently possible to ascertain
with certainty the number of people whom Access to Work might
benefit; the range of needs they would have in work; or the cost
of providing support which meets the range of currently unmet
need. However, it is clear that substantial unmet need includes
that which exists amongst people with mental health problems,
learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, young disabled
people trying to enter work for the first time, and people found
fit for work as a result of the Employment and Support Allowance
eligibility process. While it is widely accepted that supporting
disabled people in work brings a long-term return to the Exchequer
through reduced spending on out-of-work benefits and increased
income tax returns, there is a lack of published official data
to support this.
45. We recommend that, as a priority, DWP undertake
research to establish a) the likely level and range of currently
unmet need; and b) a cost-benefit analysis of Access to Work expenditure,
including its likely long-term impacts on social security expenditure
and income tax returns. We believe that such a study is likely
to produce an overwhelming case for substantial additional funding
for Access to Work, which we recommend be presented to HM Treasury
at the earliest possible opportunity. Our hope is that HM Treasury
will be able to announce substantial additional funding before
the next Comprehensive Spending Review.
46. There is remarkably little published information
on Access to Work. We have had to piece together much of the information
we needed for this inquiry from DWP's answers to Parliamentary
Questions and Freedom of Information requests. This lack of transparency
is unacceptable. We recommend that DWP change its approach to
Access to Work statistics and that, as a minimum, it regularly
publish the following information: an indicative annual budget;
annual expenditure outturns, broken down by support element and
impairment type (including autism spectrum disorders); the number
of service users by size of employer; and employers' mandatory
and voluntary financial contributions, broken down by size of
employer. We also recommend that DWP set out the steps it is taking
in response to the December 2014 UK Statistics Authority Report
on the compliance of Access to Work statistics with the Code of
Practice for Official Statistics, in its response to this Report.
47. We welcome the Minister's assurance that the
current employer cost-sharing arrangements are being considered
by the Department as part of its internal review. We believe that
DWP could do more to clarify and simplify the arrangements, which
might encourage more employers to engage with the programme. We
recommend that DWP publish case studies on the Access to Work
webpages, to illustrate the types of support which are typically
considered to be "reasonable adjustments" under the
Equality Act, and those which would normally qualify for publicly
funded support. Case studies should also illustrate the circumstances
in which employers' contributions are typically regarded as mandatory,
and those in which contributions are voluntary.
48. Given the severe constraints on DWP's budgets,
we recommend that the Department encourage increased voluntary
employer contributions, particularly from larger employers. DWP
should publish and promote case studies which illustrate examples
of employers which have gone beyond their legal requirements to
support the recruitment of disabled people, to encourage others
to follow their example. The Access to Work webpages should include
an employers' page, and links to Disability Confident promotional
material, to promote the benefits of employing disabled people.
We also recommend that Access to Work be more prominently featured
in the Disability Confident marketing campaign.
49. In the remainder of this Report we examine AtW
in more detail, including aspects of DWP's administration of the
programme, which are likely to require change in the short to
medium-term, particularly if, as both we and the Department hope,
AtW is to be scaled up substantially in the longer-term.
11 Work and Pensions Committee, Fourth Report of Session
2002-03, Employment for all: Interim report, HC 401-I Back
Sayce Review, p 124 Back
HC Deb, 6 December 2012, col 824W; HC Deb, 11 June 2014, col 168W;
Access to Work official statistics; Written Answer, 30 October
2014  Back
Sayce Review, p 82; Q36 [Liz Sayce]; Q126 [Nicola Oliver] Back
DWP, Access to Work: Official Statistics, July 2014 Back
UK Statistics Authority, Statistics on Access to Work, December
DWP (ATW0235) Back
DWP, Freedom of Information request 4093/2014 Back
Q28; DWP (ATW0235) [£3,000 figure is total annual programme
expenditure in 2013/14 (£108 million) divided by the total
number of people helped by the programme in the same period (35,450)] Back
DWP (ATW0235) Back
Disability Rights UK (ATW0286) Back
HM Treasury, Spending Round 2013, para 2.84 Back
DWP, Annual Report & Accounts 2013/14, June 2014 Back
HC Deb, 7 March 2013, cols 63-66WS Back
See Remploy, Standard Note SN/00698, House of Commons Library,
August 2014 Back
HC Deb, 22 July 2014, col 126WS Back
Remploy, Annual reports and financial statements [accessed 18
November 2014] Back
Qq 259-60 Back
DWP (ATW0344) Back
Sayce Review, p 15; Disability Employment Coalition, Access to Work for Disabled People,
2004; Business Disability Forum (ATW0285) Back
Freud, D., Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work, An independent report to the Department for Work and Pensions,
Sayce Review, p 94 Back
DWP/JCP, Employers' Guide to Access to Work: Factsheet [accessed
14 November 2014] Back
DWP, Annual Report and Accounts 2012/13, December 2013, p 23 Back
TLT Solicitors (ATW0341) Back
DWP (ATW0235) Back
DWP (ATW0235) Back
See Disability Confident campaign [accessed 5 November] Back
See, for example, Faye Stewart (ATW0320); Josef Baines (ATW0313);
Rachael Parker (ATW0309); Dr Dai O'Brien (ATW0296) Back
Work and Pensions Committee, First Report of Session 2014-15,
Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments,
HC 302, Summary; para 56; and chapter 7 Back