More disabled people than ever before are choosing self-employment

(3 minutes to read)

As many as 611,000 UK disabled people now work for themselves in their main job, but many feel they are not supported by the government.

Although there are more disabled people choosing the self-employment route, many feel that they are being let down due to poor government support.

The IPSE study, ‘Making Self-Employed Work for Disabled People’, found that the majority of UK disabled people are positive about being self-employed, citing better work conditions as being a key benefit.

However, many are struggling with difficulties accessing benefits through the Work Capability Assessment, as well as the widespread poor understanding of self-employment.

The findings also show that disabled contractors share many of the same problems as the wider self-employed sector, such as government confusion about employment status, a lack of clarity about regulations and late payments.

The IPSE has issued a number of disability-specific recommendations for government and support organisations, such as:

  • Re-designing the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to consider a range of physical and mental health conditions and reduce the chance of incorrect decisions being made.
  • Better publicity for the Access to Work programme, which is often described as ‘the best kept secret for supporting disabled people in work’.
  • Support organisations such as charities, trade associations and trade unions should help disabled people access mentoring and tailored support.

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Jonathan Lima-Matthews, Head of Public Affairs at IPSE, commented, “Working for themselves is an overwhelmingly positive choice for disabled people. They can enjoy the freedom to work when, where and, crucially, how they want – something many told us they couldn’t do in permanent employment.

“The Government says it wants to help people get into work, but ministers are letting disabled people down by failing to support them to be their own boss. It’s time for it to turn this around and give disabled people striking out for themselves the support they need.”

John Paul McHugh, Assistant General Secretary at Community, added, “The growth in the number of disabled people becoming self-employed shows no signs of slowing. It’s no surprise this report found a majority had a positive view of self-employment and intended to stay in it for the long-term.

“However, it’s clear not enough is being done by government to help disabled people to make a success of this way of working. Partnering with like-minded organisations and charities, we believe we can create a better working world for disabled people through self-employment, but that also needs the right focus and policies from government. This report sets out the steps that should be taken.”

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