Lilac Review Uncovers Barriers Faced by Disabled Entrepreneurs, Proposes Solutions to Unlock £230bn in Business Turnover

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An independent review, the Lilac review, has highlighted significant challenges faced by disabled entrepreneurs in the UK, identifying inaccessible support services, poor access to finance, and the “burden of proof of disability” as key issues that need addressing.

The provisional findings from this government-backed review, launched in February and jointly chaired by Kevin Hollinrake (Minister for Small Business), Mims Davies (Minister for Disabled People), and Victoria Jenkins (founder and CEO of Unhidden), pointed out common struggles that hinder disabled individuals from accessing entrepreneurial opportunities. These challenges include navigating unnecessarily complex processes to access business support, finance, and welfare.

The Lilac review team estimated that “levelling up entrepreneurial opportunity” for disabled founders could potentially unlock an additional £230 billion in UK business turnover. Key recommendations from the review include:

Simplifying Support Services: Radically simplifying support services to place the needs of disabled entrepreneurs at the forefront, including mentoring, networking, business training, and guidance.Removing Annual Benefit Reassessments: Scrapping annual benefit reassessments for lifelong conditions to reduce administrative costs and pressure on entrepreneurs to repeatedly justify their need for support.Trust-Based Access to Support: Moving towards a trust-based rather than proof-based system for accessing disability support.

Victoria Jenkins emphasized the need for equal access to opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs, stating, “What we want is to be given equal access to opportunities, so we are free simply to be entrepreneurs and to grow our business to the best of our ambition and abilities.”

The final report and recommendations from the Lilac review are expected to be published by the end of next year.

The review, led by Small Business Britain, follows the precedent set by the Rose review, which identified barriers to women starting and growing businesses. The Rose review’s actions, including the creation of the “investing in women code,” led to a significant increase in female entrepreneurship, demonstrating the potential impact of targeted support and policy changes.

The Lilac review aims to similarly transform the landscape for disabled entrepreneurs, ensuring they have the necessary support and opportunities to thrive. As Jenkins noted, involving founders across a wide spectrum in creating these services is essential to address the diverse experiences of disability and to create a more equitable world for disabled entrepreneurs.

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