There is a range of government support available to help blind and partially sighted people into work
In the first instance, we recommend that you speak to one of our employment specialists at your local RNIB or Action centre, who can advise you on the support available to you. To speak to your local employment specialist, ring our Helpline on 0303 123 9999. It is also a good idea to speak to a Health and Disability Advisor (formerly known as Disability Employment Advisors) at your local Jobcentre Plus. They can help support you in finding work or gaining new skills, tell you about disability friendly employers in your area, and talk you through the schemes below.
Our employment specialists can help you to establish and develop these links.
Access to Work
Access to Work is a scheme run by Jobcentre Plus. The scheme provides advice and practical support to disabled people to enable them to work alongside their colleagues in inclusive and accessible working environments. The scheme pays a grant towards any extra employment costs that result from a disability, such as adaptations to the workplace, or specialist equipment. You can find out more about the scheme by going to the Access to Work section.
Work Choice is the most common programme for people with disabilities. It helps people whose needs cannot be met through other work programmes, Access to Work or workplace adjustments. This might be because you need more specialised support to find employment or keep a job once you have started work.
If Work Choice is for you it will be tailored to meet your individual needs. It will focus on helping you achieve your full potential and moving towards being more independent. For more information visit the GOV.UK website.
The Work Programme can help you prepare for, find and stay in work. If you're already working part-time, it could help you to increase your hours. The Work Programme may include you taking part in activities to help you find work, such as work experience and training. However, it is not specifically designed for people with disabilities. For more information visit the GOV.UK website.
Residential training is for people who need to develop new skills or to re-train to go in to employment. The training usually takes place in a residential setting in accessible buildings. Staff members with specialist knowledge of disability issues teach the courses.
Also, confusing as it sounds, residential training doesn't have to be residential. Some of the providers offer distance-learning or programmes in people's home areas. For more information visit the GOV.UK website.
The Youth Contract is designed to help young unemployed people get a job. Initiatives include apprenticeships, voluntary work experience placements and sector-based work academies. For more information visit the DWP website.
Other types of support
There are other types of support available, such as funding and grants, Work Trials, and Employment on Trail. For more information visit the GOV.UK website.
What to do if you are unable to access support from your local Jobcentre Plus - your rights
If you are unhappy with the support you are getting from Jobcentre Plus - including access to the schemes mentioned above - and talking things through with your Health and Disability Adviser has not worked, you have the right to make a formal complaint to the Jobcentre Plus you have been dealing with. Jobcentre Plus state that they aim to respond to all complaints within 15 working days.
If your local Jobcentre Plus is unable to resolve the compliant to your satisfaction then you can ask for your case to be sent to the Director General of Operations for the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). This department aims to deal with complaints within 15 working days. If the matter is still not resolved then you can ask the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) to investigate. The ICE is impartial and conducts reviews of complaints about certain government organisations. Please note that you must take your case to the ICE within six months of receiving the final response from Jobcentre Plus.
If you are unhappy with the response from the Independent Case Examiner, you can ask your local MP to send your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 if you would like to talk to one of our advisers about making a complaint about Jobcentre Plus.
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