The Access to Work national delivery team is currently implementing an internal marketing strategy to ensure that all Jobcentre staff involved with disabled customers are fully aware of the Access to Work programme. This will cover the aims of the programme, eligibility criteria and the application process. An online aide-memoire is being produced which employer-facing staff can use to raise the profile of Access to Work.
The programme is also being promoted through presentations and exhibitions, and through close working partnerships developed with the major disability groups such as the Royal National Institute for Blind people, Royal National Institute for Deaf people and Mind. Partnerships with the Employers' Forum on Disability and with large employers such as the Royal Mail Group have been developed.
Jobcentre Plus continues to place articles about Access to Work in a variety of publications. For example, articles have appeared in external publications such as Disability Wales and the National Spinal Association magazine illustrating how Access to Work can practically support disabled people into paid employment. The magazine Inspire, produced by Jobcentre Plus and targeted at jobseekers, regularly carries information about Access to Work and is available, along with other leaflets on Access to Work, in all Jobcentre Plus offices. Additionally, articles about Access to Work have appeared in Engage, the Jobcentre Plus internally produced magazine for employers.
Information about Access to Work is available on the Jobcentre Plus and Directgov websites. Directgov, as a source of information about Jobcentre Plus services for disabled people, is widely publicised. Disability employment advisers, who are often the gateway to Access to Work, are regularly in contact with small to medium-sized employers locally and will raise awareness of Access to Work when appropriate.
In response to the welfare reform Green Paper of 21 July 2008, No One Written Off—Reforming Welfare to Reward Responsibility, which included a proposal to increase Access to Work funding, ways to further improve marketing of the scheme are being considered.
Access to Work can help people with mental health conditions by providing a range of short-term or more regular support. This includes job coaches, personal mentors, advocates to provide help with negotiating and problem-solving skills, counsellors and support workers—for example, a travel buddy who would accompany the customer when travelling to and from work where the customer cannot manage travelling alone.
There are also other forms of Access to Work support that can assist those with mental health conditions. For example, if use of public transport triggered panic attacks and a travel buddy was not a suitable option, Access to Work could pay the additional costs arising from the use of taxis. If necessary, Access to Work could also provide indirect support by paying for awareness training to help a customer's colleagues to gain a better understanding of the customer's mental health condition.
The welfare reform Green Paper, No One Written Off—Reforming Welfare to Reward Responsibility, includes a proposal to increase Access to Work funding. Access to Work is looking at ways to use some of the funding to make the programme more responsive to the needs of those with mental health conditions. This includes exploring ways to assist the Department of Health increase the number of people with mental ill health working within the NHS and looking at how Access to Work may fit with their increasing access to psychological therapies programme. Access to Work has already begun to work more closely with national mental health organisations to explore ways of working together to deliver a more flexible approach in supporting both people with mental health conditions and their employers in the workplace.