The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently reported that 12% of the potential workforce of circa 30 million people in the UK are disabled. Earlier data reveals that only 46% of disabled people are in employment compared with 76% of non-disabled people.
This stark statistic highlights the perceived barriers to disabled people working, whether because of communication and cognitive difficulties or mobility problems.
It is against this background that the BBC has recently reported that a group of venture capitalists, led by Hardeep Rai, has founded a fund called Kaleidoscope. Rai has a son with severe brain damage and thus appreciates the barriers faced by disabled people. The fund is aimed at disabled entrepreneurs with good ideas who wish to start their own businesses. It seeks to provide financial backing for those whom the backers feel will achieve a decent return.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also highlighted its own New Enterprise Allowance Scheme which provides mentoring and a weekly allowance for disabled entrepreneurs, while enabling them to claim existing benefits such as Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
Alison Appelboam Meadows, a partner in the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team, said: “While there will always be some people who are unable to work because of the extent of their disabilities, those who can and wish to work should be supported as far as possible.
“Penningtons Manches acts for many people with significant disabilities. The question of whether they will be able to undertake paid work is considered carefully in the context of their claims.”