Disabled self-employed people

Making self-employment work for disabled people: an agenda to make it happen

In our second landmark report together with Community trade union, 'Making self-employment work for disabled people’ explores the experiences of the overlooked disabled self-employed – a community of 611,000 freelancers that comprises one in seven of all self-employed people. 

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We conducted a series of in-depth interviews with disabled people and experts on disability to uncover the truth about this large cohort of the self-employed. Our study showed the experiences of disabled freelancers are overwhelmingly positive, but issues do exist for this group, including:

  • Late payment: Like all freelancers, disabled people often struggle with the scourge of late payment from clients, but this is doubly damaging for this group who earn 23 per cent less than non-disabled self-employed people.
  • Difficulties getting started: The disabled freelancers we spoke to said advice and support with setting up their businesses is much needed and many felt like they didn't have anyone to turn to when starting out.
  • A welfare system that could work better:  Leaps and bounds have been made to improve the welfare system for disabled people but there are still issues to be resolved, particularly around the assessment process and the expansion of schemes which can improve disabled people’s experiences whilst in self-employment, like Access to Work.

In our report we outline 17 recommendations to make self-employment work for disabled people, and they include:

  • Give the Small Business Commissioner the power to fine persistent late payers: We are pleased the Government has listened to IPSE's campaigns in this area and is now acting on this. Freelancers spend an average of 20 days per year chasing late payment, and in some cases this results in no pay at all. This must stop.
  • GP’s to refer disabled people onto Access to Work: GPs will be the first port of call for many disabled people so it is right those with medical knowledge of how best to support a person’s impairment or condition are able to refer them to get further support on this programme.
  • New Enterprise Allowance to be extended to two years: Businesses rarely find their feet after six months, so with some small financial support and mentorship through an extended New Enterprise Allowance more disabled people can become business ready in their first years.

Download the report to read our other recommendations