Lilac Review exposes barriers faced by disabled entrepreneurs and proposes solutions to generate £230 billion in business turnover

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

The preliminary findings of this government-backed review, launched in February and co-chaired by Kevin Hollinrake (Minister for Small Business), Mims Davies (Minister for People with Disabilities) and Victoria Jenkins (Founder and CEO of Unhidden), pointed out common challenges that prevent people with disabilities from accessing entrepreneurial opportunities. These challenges include navigating unnecessarily complex processes to access business support, finance and wellbeing.

The Lilac assessment team estimated that “increasing entrepreneurial opportunities” for founders with disabilities could potentially generate an additional £230 billion in UK business turnover. Key recommendations from the evaluation include:

Simplify support services: Radically simplifying support services to bring the needs of disabled entrepreneurs to the forefront, including mentoring, networking, business training and guidance.
Remove annual reassessments of benefits: Abolition of annual reassessments of benefits for lifelong conditions to reduce administrative costs and reduce the pressure on entrepreneurs to repeatedly justify their need for support.
Trust-based access to support: Towards a trust-based rather than evidence-based system for accessing disability support.

Highlighting the need for equal access to opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs, Victoria Jenkins stated: “What we want is equal access to opportunities so that we are free to simply be entrepreneurs and grow our business to the best of our ambition and capabilities. .”

The final report and recommendations from the Lilac review are expected to be published at 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 “code for investing in women”, have 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 and ensure they have the necessary support and opportunities to thrive. As Jenkins noted, involving founders from a broad spectrum in creating these services is essential to addressing the diverse experiences of disability and creating a more equitable world for disabled entrepreneurs.

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