58 Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), looks at how to support disabled people in the work force Disabled people and those with health conditions make a huge contribution to the UK economy, with small businesses owned by disabled people accounting for 8.6% of the turnover of all UK businesses. Yet Government statistics show that the disability employment rate, at 52.7%, lags well behind the employment rate for non-disabled people (81%). With one in five of the working-age population classed as disabled, there is much more that ought to be done to make work and workplaces more accessible to disabled people, and to encourage disabled entrepreneurs. At FSB, we decided to look into the issues around how to support disabled people and those with health conditions in the workforce. Our report, Business Without Barriers, found that in the past three years more than half (51%) of small employers have employed someone they know to be disabled or to have a health condition, while more than a million small business owners and sole traders are managing disabilities or health conditions on a daily basis. Despite this, only one in twenty (5%) small businesses have used the Government’s Access to Work scheme, a support scheme designed to help more disabled people start or stay in work. Only around one in 12 (8%) business owners who are disabled have accessed local authority business support services – the share is half that of their non-disabled counterparts. Worryingly, close to one in four (23%) of business owners who are disabled or who have a health condition report suffering discrimination or negative treatment. It’s an utter injustice that so many disabled people are denied the opportunities that employment and entrepreneurship bring, something that can and should be fixed by Government and enterprise working together. At a time when we need more people to set up a small business and drive the economic recovery, more than half (52%) of disabled entrepreneurs say they have experienced a barrier due to their disability or health condition. This must change. We think the Government should commit to setting a target to grow the number of disabled entrepreneurs by 100,000 by 2025, and by over 250,000 by 2030. To support this ambition, we’d like to see a condition-specific ‘Pathways to Entrepreneurship’ strategy developed, to address the differing barriers faced by those with different conditions, as not every disability or long-term health condition impacts entrepreneurship in the same way. Our report also argues the case for a full Statutory Sick Pay rebate to prompt a phased return to work for people who are off sick, and for the introduction of a new disability Kickstart Scheme to give disabled people who are long-term unemployed their first proper chance in the workplace. There’s no lack of talent, ideas, experience, and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship among disabled people – it’s only right that they should be enabled to build businesses, careers, and new ventures. Visit the FSB website to read more insights from the Business Without Barriers report and access the resource hub designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs. WORKPLACE EQUALITY ABOUT FSB As the UK’s business support group, FSB is the voice of the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed. Established over 40 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by its members, for its members. As the UK’s leading business campaigner, FSB is focused on delivering change which supports smaller businesses to grow and succeed. FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including access to finance, business banking, legal advice and support along with a powerful voice in Government. Each year FSB also runs the UK’s Celebrating Small Business Awards. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk. You can follow us on twitter @fsb_policy and on Instagram @fsb_uk.