Legal basis for the Access to Work scheme

Following on from my post here, I undertook some further research into the statutory basis for the Access to Work scheme, on the understanding that the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions’ power derives from section 15(4) of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944. This provides a Minster the power to “contribute towards expenses incurred by persons for whom facilities are provided under this section in travelling to and from the place where they are employed or work or where training is provided, and may make payments to or in respect of such persons, up to such amounts as the Minister may with the approval of the Treasury determine and in such manner as he may determine”.

However, as is customary with UK law, any such powers conferred on a Minster by an Act of Parliament is usually fleshed out in secondary legislation such as a Statutory Instrument, but it has not been possible to find any relevant Statutory Instruments from whence the Access to Work scheme originates.

I therefore submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Work and Pensions on 21 March 2015 (see here), and received a response on 31 March 2015, as follows:

The enabling powers for Access to Work are not in fact provided under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944, rather it is a discretionary scheme with enabling powers contained in S2(2)(b) of the Employment And Training Act 1973

S2 Functions of the Secretary of State.
(1) The Secretary of State shall make such arrangements as he considers appropriate for the
purpose of assisting persons to select, train for, obtain and retain employment suitable for their
ages and capacities or of assisting persons to obtain suitable employees (including partners
and other business associates).

(2) Arrangements under this section may:
(b) include arrangements for encouraging increases in the opportunities for employment and
training that are available to women and girls or to disabled persons;

There are no regulations. Decisions are made by Access to Work Advisers (normally at EO
grade) who have discretion to make awards on behalf of the Secretary of State and are
supported by guidance. Decisions on applications for Access to Work funding are not
therefore appealable but do remain challengeable by way of judicial review if they are made in
an unlawful or unfair way.

So there we have it: the statutory basis for the Access to Work scheme confirmed at last. I have updated my Challenging Access to Work post.


Deaf, hubby to Rachel, dad to Corey, Libby and Emily, Solicitor, Lecturer in Legal Practice at University of South Wales, PhD student at University of Leicester.

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