Memorandum submitted by Association of
1. Self employment is an option for disabled
people but it must be properly supported.
2. Getting back to work has bureaucratic
barriers in the way.
3. As has been indicated in past studies
work must pay when coming off benefits in particular with self
The Association of Disabled Professionals (ADP)
is delighted to submit evidence to the enquiry on "Reform
of incapacity benefit".
The Association of Disabled Professionals was
established in 1972 and exists to provide a forum to enable disabled
people to share experiences of successful personal development,
employment opportunities, self employment and valued work, and
to help create conditions for other disabled people to realise
their ambitions. ADP works to the social model of disability.
Disabled people want, need and benefit from
services and support being provided to them by other disabled
people. They do so in the same way that many women want services
provided and issues addressed by other women.
This response is twofold. The first deals with
self employment and the second part deals with issues around employment.
1. SELF EMPLOYMENT
For various reasons, working for employers is
not an option for many disabled people. Consequently many of them
are happy to consider self employment. Unfortunately our evidence
shows that disabled people do not get the information on self-employment
from mainstream agencies in the format that they need. They often
come to the ADP as a last resort. ADP is the only national organisation
of disabled people providing assistance to other disabled people
on issues associated with self-employment and entrepreneurship.
By this we mean disabled people providing advice to other disabled
people and others.
The ADP has operated the Disabled Entrepreneurs
Network for five years and the main issues are:
Mainstream funders, providers and
stakeholders, who provide services to disabled people, demonstrably
fail to understand both the needs of disabled people and the experience
of disablement. This leads to failed communication and inappropriate
Too often it is assumed that potential
entrepreneurs have the intellect and education to operate a business.
It needs to be understood that not everyone including non disabled
people, women, black and ethnic minority people and disabled people
has the same intellectual and educational background when providing
Potential entrepreneurs who are disabled
people want immediate access to bespoke advice on an "as
and when basis" at anytime of the day or night. (e-systems
Many disabled people want to talk
to other disabled people who have experienced a similar situation.
Little or no support for disabled
entrepreneurs or budding entrepreneurs between the ages of 30
and 50 years and after their six month course has ended.
Lack of fundingseen as a "bad
risk" by lenders and all too often have difficulty in accessing
any form of grant.
Lack of or incorrect information
given about Access to Work Scheme (AtW). Even when you get the
right information, there are bureaucratic barriers placed in the
The business issues of disabled people are common
to entrepreneurs everywhere, the way disabled people access help
and information differs, as does the preferred reply format and
the type of "soft" help needed eg advocacy, motivation,
risk management, welfare advice, "access to work". Currently,
the way in which service providers seek to meet the needs of disabled
people fails because of underlying stereotypes, social discrimination
and lack of empathy which combine to close down channels of communication
rather than open them up.
There is a need for partnership working between
the mainstream agencies and fringe specialist organisations such
as the ADP/Disabled Entrepreneurs Network. There needs to be recognition
that not everyone knows the answers and that should not be recorded
as a failure of the advice given.
Staff within mainstream agencies such as business
link and Jobcentre Plus needs more awareness training around entrepreneurship
issues, writing business plans/finance etc but there is very little
information from the DTI that passes direct with unemployed potential
entrepreneurs. To this end we suggest:
Training is given on disability awareness.
Consideration is given to a co-ordinated
structure between the mainstream agencies and others to streamline
the process of a smoother transition into self employment.
Ensuring the availability of assistance
after the first six/12 month period.
Continuous advice after the six/12 month period
of introduction is not easily available or accessible. The Prince's
Trust is often able to give advice to people under 30 years but
there is little or no provision for those disabled people over
30 years. Such business advice is expensive for a one-person band
or fledging business.
There does not appear to be any widespread availability
of "better off" calculations or advice about benefits
whilst self employed. Indeed enquiries to us suggest neither is
ADP advises many people who have come to ADP
as a last resort, having been to other organisations who have
given unhelpful or incorrect information or who are inexperienced
at giving information. Indeed, some enquiries are extremely distressing.
The issues are:
1. Access to the job centresmany disabled
people cannot access the job centres because of their disabilities
and/or cannot afford to get theremany have no other income
and need to hire support workers to get to the job centre. Often
advisors do not think to offer home visits.
2. Inappropriate informationincorrect
format, incorrect time and incorrect way.
3. Lack of or incorrect information given
about Access to Work Scheme (AtW). Even when given the right information,
there are bureaucratic barriers placed in the way.
4. People with mental health difficulties
are often inappropriately supported as they need many hours of
tailored advice. Many advisors do not allow enough time in one
5. With today's technology many disabled
people may be able to work from home but because of some employer's
ignorance, trust and policies are often barred from doing so.
Indeed ADP has been very successful in employing a disabled person
working from home.
6. Regulations such as working time directive,
health and safety regulations can cause difficulties to disabled
people when they seek employment or when they become disabled
whilst in work. For example a difficulty infollowing or carrying
out lifting and handling procedures is often used to exclude disabled
people from the health professions, even if it is unlikely that
they will have to carry out the procedures. (It is argued that
it is on the grounds of "Health and Safety".)
1. Currently the incapacity benefit permitted
work rules enable people to earn £78 per week which at 16
hours per week equates £4.85 per hourthe minimum wage.
Few people on incapacity benefit will start up in business with
this incentive. Flexibility needs to be built in to include the
expenses of trading. Indeed those people on income support the
earnings limit is only £20 per week which is barely four
hours work a week and buys very little these days.
2. Because of their impairment some clients
are only able to work for less than 16 hours a week but earn more
per hour than the permitted work rules. The working tax credit
is applicable to people working 16 hours per week or more. It
gives little incentive to those highly qualified people trying
to get back to work.
3. Disabled people cannot take up many public
appointments as they breach the permitted work rules in terms
of remuneration not time. We would suggest that ways are found
to enable people to take up appointments without penalty. For
example for some people equating the remuneration over a longer
lead time instead of a weekly basis.
ADP hopes that these comments are useful for
27 September 2005