Birmingham is leading the way in providing extra support to get disabled people into mainstream work, Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey announced today.

Britain’s second largest city tops the list of where disabled entrepreneurs and businesses receive the most support under the Government’s specialist disability employment scheme.

The scheme, Access to Work, pays for specialised equipment, support workers and travel costs.

Last year 700 people from Birmingham received support to get or stay in work, with 550 from Leeds and 400 from Glasgow.

“Although the disability employment rate has increased over recent years, there is still more we need to do to close the gap with non-disabled people,” Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey said.

“That is why we’ve opened up our flagship programme so that disabled people can have the same choice of jobs as everyone else - in every sector, from hairdressing to engineering and everything in between.

“Last year, more than 30,000 businesses or disabled entrepreneurs took up our offer of extra support through Access to Work — but we know many more disabled people could benefit, so I’d urge them to see how the scheme might help them get or stay in work.”

Recent changes to Access to Work mean:

- Businesses with up to 49 employees will no longer pay a contribution towards the extra costs faced by disabled people in work, saving them up to £2,300 per employee who uses the fund;
- Disabled jobseekers who want to set up their own business will now be eligible for Access to Work funding from day one of receiving Job Seekers Allowance; and
- Access to Work advisers will be given more flexibility in deciding which equipment is funded through the scheme, offering more choice to disabled people in work.

Access to Work has previously been called ‘the Government’s best kept secret’, and the Government has expanded the marketing campaign to raise awareness of the changes and target young disabled people and people with mental health conditions.

Half a million disabled people are self-employed, making up 15 per cent of all employed disabled people, and around 100,000 of them provide jobs by employing at least one other person. This compares with the 3.2m non-disabled people in self-employment, which is 13 per cent of those in employment.

More than 300,000 disabled people hold management roles and around 480,000 disabled people run their own business.