More disabled people than ever are choosing to access work on their own terms.
A recent report from IPSE (The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), found that the number of disabled people in self-employed work has risen by 30% in the last 5 years. The number of disabled people in Britain now numbers over seven million, and independent workers make up 16% of this population – some 611,000 self-employed.
We took a closer look at the IPSE report findings to discover what is driving this growing disabled self-employed population, and what more can be done to ensure disabled people receive the support they need to succeed.
Why Are More Disabled People Choosing Self Employment?
21% of disabled people choose self-employment due to better working conditions or higher job satisfaction according to data from the Labour Force Survey. IPSE report a range of ‘push and pull’ factors that are leading disabled people towards self-employment. Push factors include stigma in the workplace and lack of accessibility, while pull factors align with those reported in the wider freelancing community – including increased opportunity for flexibility and control. Evidence collected by IPSE showed that most respondents had a positive view of self-employment and intended to continue working independently. Although, loneliness, lack of confidence, and poor financial stability were cited as drawbacks of self-employment by some.
Could The Government Do More to Support Self-Employed Disabled People?
IPSE recognise that disabled people face a range of unique challenges as self-employed workers. They have outlined 17 recommended steps the government can take to better support disabled people who choose to work independently. These include changes to the WCA (Work Capability Assessment) and PIP (Personal Independent Payment) processes, alongside giving Work Coaches increased disability and self-employment awareness training. They also advocate greater use of mentoring schemes to support disabled people, and better promotion of the highly regarded Access to Work (ATW) scheme.
It’s clear that self-employment is offering a vital pathway into work for the disabled population, and this is a community set to grow in coming years. It’s important, therefore, that we not only recognise a diverse self-employed population, but that disabled people have easy access to the tools and support they need to succeed.