Access to Work available to self employed people

Disabled people can now get support through Access to Work when setting up their own business if they are enrolled on the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA). The NEA provides expert coaching and financial support for jobseekers with a business idea.

NEA participants have access to a volunteer business mentor who provides guidance and support as they develop their business plan and through the early months of trading. Once a claimant has had their business plan approved and started trading, they will be able to access financial support consisting of:
* a weekly allowance worth £1,274 over 26 weeks, paid at £65 a week for the first 13 weeks and £33 a week for a further 13 weeks, and
* the facility to access a loan of up to £1,000 to help with start-up costs, subject to status.

Access to Work can pay for specialised equipment, support workers and travel costs when setting up their business. The measure aims to boost the number of disabled people who are self-employed, which is half a million people or 15 per cent of disabled people in work.

Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey said:

"If 2013 is the year aspiring disabled people want to set up a business – then Access to Work can help. We’ve opened up our flagship programme so that disabled people have the same choice to start up their own business as everyone else - in every sector, from hairdressing to engineering and everything in between. Through this scheme I am determined to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs – the same as everyone else."

Last year Access to Work helped over 30,000 disabled people keep or get jobs, with around 4,500 working in small businesses. Further announcements are expected regarding changes to Access to Work. Concern has been expressed recently regarding the fall in numbers of people accessing the programme.