Trust-based approach needed in supporting disabled entrepreneurs, report says

The Lilac Review’s interim report has made several recommendations to help support disabled entrepreneurs and help unlock an additional £230billion for the UK economy

Small business minister Kevin Hollinrake

A new report has urged for a ‘radical simplification’ of the process for disabled businesspeople to access Government support.

The Lilac Review’s interim report also suggested that entrepreneurs should be trusted in disability assessments, rather than being subjected to a “constant process of proof”. Launched in February and set to run for two years, the review aims to identify and help eliminate barriers faced by disabled-led businesses in the UK.

The review is co-chaired by small business minister Kevin Hollinrake, minister for disabled people, health and work Mims Davies and Victoria Jenkins, chief executive and founder of an adaptive fashion brand. The report highlighted that while disabled entrepreneurs makeup 25% of small businesses, they only account for 8.6% of total small business turnover.

It estimated that enhancing opportunities for disabled founders could potentially unlock an additional £230billion for the UK economy. The report recommended the Government to radically simplify processes and requirements for accessing its programmes and support.

It pointed out that disabled entrepreneurs are burdened with having to “repeatedly prove that they are disabled or ‘disabled enough’ to get support”. The report concluded: “There are opportunities to apply a trust-based approach up to (but excluding) the benefits system.”

“Business support programmes and Government-backed financial services can look at this as a positive move towards improved engagement with disabled entrepreneurs. This can certainly be applied to business support services and potentially for financial services from the British Business Bank.”

The report suggests that removing the burden of proof could “significantly reduce the pressure on disabled entrepreneurs and reduce the indignity of this process”. In regards to people with lifelong conditions, yearly benefits assessment “felt to create unnecessary stress on the individual”, according to cited feedback in which frustrated recipients lamented: “I am not going to grow my leg back” and “I’m not going to lose a chromosome”.

Besides exerting a “huge pressure” on professionals, this annual verification routine is also accruing cost and workload for the government, the review indicates. “Implementing a process whereby lifelong conditions could be marked on the entrepreneur’s file would significantly reduce this burden,” it proposes.

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