Business secretary Vince Cable is to consider what action the government can take to boost the number of disabled entrepreneurs.
Cable was speaking during a visit to a university laboratory today (26 June) as a guest of Disability Rights UK (DR UK).
Philip Connolly, DR UK’s policy and communications manager, who organised the visit to University College London to discuss the value of disabled entrepreneurs, said Cable was “open and amenable and he offered ongoing dialogue”.
He said: “I think he will have learned that disabled people do not just need to feature in the supply side of the economy in terms of jobs, but they can also create economic activity and lead to the recruitment of other disabled and non-disabled people.”
Connolly said: “We are now hoping for a concerted and coordinated response from the government in terms of helping disabled people becoming even more entrepreneurial.”
He said government figures showed that only about 100 disabled people claiming Access to Work support also claim the New Enterprise Allowance, which can provide money and support to help a benefit claimant start their own business.
He said: “What we would like to see is almost a strategy from the government on how they can be more responsive in this area – helping disabled people themselves, but also helping the businesses that supply and meet their needs.”
He added: “Disabled people are highly resourceful people and often as a result of having to find new ways of doing things that others take for granted are creative and inventive thinkers and doers.
“These qualities are valuable in an economy needing resilience and constant innovation.”
During the visit, Cable was shown a demonstration of the university’s Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA), an “adjustable platform of paving surfaces combined with cutting-edge lighting and sound technology”, which offers researchers insight into how pedestrians interact with their environment by replicating real-world conditions.
Street furniture can be arranged on the platform, with lighting used to simulate different lighting conditions.
Cable also met one of the two winners of RNIB’s Blind Bit of Difference competition, Jun-Woo Kim.
Students who took part in the competition were asked to develop business plans that would create employment opportunities for blind and partially-sighted people.
Jun-Woo Kim and Jihun Kim, students at London Business School, won with a service that would train people with sight loss to teach conversational English to office workers and students across the world via the internet.
26 June 2014
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com