Employment Services For Disabled People

Focus on Disability - For Disabled People, the Elderly and their Carers in the UK

Services providing help for people with disabilities to find and stay in work, including Jobcentres, employment services, voluntary organisations and charities.

If you are disabled or become disabled while working you can get help to gain new skills, find a job or stay in work from a range of organisations. For some disabled people the ability to hold down a job can have psychological importance to their wellbeing. Given here are some of the main sources of help available.

Using the Jobcentre

Jobcentre Plus

Responsible for the national network of Jobcentres. These can offer advice at every stage of your search for a job, and make sure you have access to benefits or allowances you are entitled to claim. The Jobcentre service starts with the range of job vacancies always on displayYour first contact will almost certainly be with a Client Adviser who can let you know about the different ways you can get help to find a job, or take up training that will help you with your future job choices. If you have a disability that affects the kind of work you can do, you will be eligible to join many of the programs open to people who have been unemployed for some time, without having to wait for the qualifying period

The Work Programme

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.
Find out more, including when you must take part. Work Choice
The Work Choice employment scheme for people with disabilities and long term health
issues to overcome the problems faced when it comes to finding and keeping work.

Disability Employment Advisers – work as part of the local Disability Services Team (Formerly PACT – Placement Assessment and Counselling Team) which works with employees as well as with people with disabilities.

Discrimination Information – Equality Act 2010 – Definition of Disability


Permitted work when receiving benefits

If you start paid work of 16 hours or more per week, you should seek advice about benefit entitlement from an advice agency. You could request a ‘better-off’ calculation to establish whether you will be financially better off in work and identify the in-work benefits and tax credits you should be applying for.

Permitted work

If you are getting employment and support allowance (ESA), incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance (SDA), national insurance credits or income support because of incapacity for work, you are allowed to do some ‘permitted work’.

You have a choice of three permitted work options, depending on your circumstances:

  • Permitted work lower limit
  • Permitted work higher limit and
  • Supported permitted work

Permitted work can include paid employment or self-employment.

You do not need the permission of a doctor to do permitted work, but you should tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you are working.

For ESA, incapacity benefit and SDA, all permitted work earnings are ignored. If you are on income support, any earnings over £20 will be deducted from your income support.

Permitted work lower limit

Under this option, you can earn up to £20 a week for an unlimited period.

Permitted work higher limit

Under this option, you can earn up to £104 a week (after tax and national insurance deductions). The work must be for less than 16 hours a week. The earnings limit is normally increased each October. You can normally only do permitted work higher limit for up to 52 weeks. You may, however, do it without time limit if you are on ESA and have been placed in the ‘support group’.

If you have a break in your claim of more than eight weeks (or 12 weeks for ESA), you can repeat the 52-week period of permitted work higher limit. Otherwise, you can do further permitted work higher limit only after a gap of more than 52 weeks since you last did it.

Supported permitted work

This is work where you are supervised by someone who is employed by a public or local authority or community or voluntary group which provides or finds work for people with disabilities. It can also be work which is part of a treatment programme under medical supervision while you are an in-patient or regularly attending as an out-patient of a hospital or similar institution.

Supported permitted work has no restriction on the hours you work and can be for an unlimited period. You cannot earn more than £104.00 a week after tax and national insurance deductions.

Other allowed work

The following kinds of work are also allowed:

  • care of a relative or domestic tasks carried out in your own home.
  • work as a councillor. If you receive a councillor’s allowance that pays more than £104 a week (excluding expenses), the excess will be deducted from your contributory ESA, incapacity benefit or SDA.
  • any activity in an emergency to protect another person or to prevent serious damage to property or livestock.
  • duties undertaken as an appeal tribunal disability member – one day a week is allowed (or two half days).
  • a DWP-approved unpaid work trial or work placement.
  • self-employed work done whilst you are ‘test trading’ for up to 26 weeks with help from a self-employment provider arranged by Jobcentre Plus.
  • (for ESA only) duties undertaken fostering a child or providing respite care to someone who is not normally a member of your household, if you receive payment from a health body, voluntary organisation or local authority (or from the person placed with you by the local authority).
  • a DWP-approved unpaid work trial or work placement.
  • work which is so minimal that it can be regarded as trivial or negligible.

Income Tax

If you start Permitted Work, you may have to pay tax on your extra income. You must notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as soon as you start work.

“Positive About Disabled People” Symbol

Look out for employers who use the disability symbol (as shown below) on job advertisements, application forms and recruitment literature. It shows a company is positive about employing disabled people and will be keen to know about your abilities.

Positive About disabled People Logo

Working for yourself

As your own boss, you have the flexibility of controlling your own work environment, travel, and money. State assistance is, broadly speaking, the same as all would-be self-employed people receive.

Start your own business

On 5 October 2010 the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced that the Government will give extra help to unemployed people who want to start their own business, through the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA). NEA is available to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants aged 18 and over who have been claiming for 26-weeks or more. Participants will get access to a volunteer business mentor who will provide guidance and support as they develop their business plan and through the early months of trading. Once a claimant can demonstrate they have a viable business proposition with the potential for growth in the future, they will be able to access financial support. This will consist of: a weekly allowance worth £1,274 over 26 weeks, paid at £65 a week for the first 13 weeks and £33 a week for a further 13 weeks, and the facility to access a loan of up to £1,000 to help with start-up costs, subject to status. The total package of support could be worth up to £2,274 to each participant who starts their own business.

A Disability Employment Advisers should be able to give you good advice if your disabled and intend starting a business or become self emplyed.

Work as a volunteer

Voluntary work can put you in touch with the world of work and may help you assess your strengths. It can be a bridge into paid employment, providing references and proving your skills and abilities. But check with your local Social Security office to make sure no benefit would be affected before starting work.Get in touch with a specialist agency such as: Community Service Volunteers (CSV) finds work away from home with expenses, meals, and pocket money provided. Tel: 0207 278 6601 National Association of Volunteer Bureaux has a network of 335 volunteer bureaux in England, with some members in Wales and Northern Ireland, offering local volunteering opportunities.
See under Volunteer Bureaux in the phone book or Tel: 0121 633 4555

Employment for Disabled People – Organisations and Resources

The Disabled Workers Co-operative

Website: https://www.disabledworkers.org.uk
Their aim is to promote the skills, services and products offered by disabled workers by creating a searchable (by anyone looking for whatever they need) database of these skills and services.

The Careers Service

provides structured programmes of careers, education and guidance for all young people. It provides specialist advice for clients with special educational or training needs. Many (but not all) careers services have specialist advisers for people with special needs.The Careers Service assists:

  • People in full-time education except those at institutions of higher education or on higher education courses at further education college
  • People in part-time education in order to prepare them for employment
  • People aged under 21 who have left education or full-time training.;

Disabled people remain part of the client group until they are settled in their careers, without age or time restriction.Careers advisers must provide accessible and user-friendly information about education, training and employment opportunities; help people make decisions about work and training based on realistic understanding of their ability and potential; and help clients at a disadvantage in the labour market.
website: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

WorkFit – Connecting Employers and Employees with Down’s syndrome

Website: https://www.dsworkfit.org.uk/
The WorkFit programme is a national employment programme designed to help people with Down’s syndrome find jobs and train employers on how to recruit and support someone with Down’s syndrome in the workplace.


A UK pan-disability charity which is committed to creating a world where information and communications technology is not a barrier to people but rather enables them to live their lives to achieve their full potential whether at home, through education or in work.
Website: https://www.abilitynet.org.uk

The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE)

Tthe national trade association representing hundreds of agencies involved in securing employment for people with disabilities.
Website: https://base-uk.org/

Evenbreak logoEvenbreak – a website where disabled jobseekers can be confident that employers who have chosen to display their vacancies are serious about looking beyond their disabilities and identify the skills they have to offer.
Website: https://www.evenbreak.co.uk/


Provide jobs and training services to enable people with a learning disability to develop the skills they need for the workplace. They support people to find, and stay, in employment, and to make the most of their experiences as employees.
Support for businesses – Mencap also works with businesses to support the employment of people with a learning disability, to make sure they have the right support to enjoy the benefits of having a truly diverse workforce.
Website: https://www.mencap.org.uk/employment

Papworth Trust

has over 20 years’ experience of helping disabled people and people who are disadvantaged or have health conditions to find and keep jobs that are right for them.
Website: https://www.papworthtrust.org.uk/

Richmond Fellowship

– Employment Services support people who have or are recovering from mental health problems and wish to return to paid employment, voluntary work or training. We offer information, advice and guidance across a range of skill sets through one to one sessions with Employment Advisers.


Supports employees with mental health problems, including stress, anxiety and depression. Retain aims to maximise employees’ chances of maintaining their employment when problems arise, by working with individuals on a one to one basis and also with their employer.
Website: https://www.richmondfellowship.org.uk/

Shaw Trust

A national charity which enables disabled people to maximise their work opportunities. It is the largest voluntary-sector sponsor under the Supported Employment Programme, with partnerships with over 2000 host companies employing some 2,500 disabled people
Website: https://www.shaw-trust.org.uk/


A variety of employment and training services for people with disabilities, including Fast-Track (a graduate development programme), Skills Development Centres, Supported Placements, and Employment Officers covering England and Wales.
Tel: 0808 800 3333
Website: https://www.scope.org.uk/