It has been a Government initiative for the past few years to get disabled people off Benefits and back into work. This can benefit the disabled entrepreneur as this often means financial help and support distributed by various business support companies, the local Government, charities and Job Centre Plus partners.
Each organisation will have a grant for a certain purpose and for a certain type of person. So when enquiring about a grant it’s always worth mentioning that you are trying to get off Benefits and get back into work!
Working as a business advisor I have helped people in obtaining grants ranging from £500 – £15000. To get these amounts you will need three things; a sound business idea, a strong business plan, and a lot of patience.
If you have already started up in business, are in employment or have some finance available in a bank account, then your chances of getting a substantial grant are incredibly small. So for the purpose of this article I will be concentrating on grants for disabled entrepreneurs who are unemployed
Many clients who come to me want to start up in business yesterday. That’s fine if you have the capital behind to start up quickly, although I would not recommend it. If you require grants to start up in business, be prepared for a long wait.
Grants like most things, are a numbers game. The more you apply for the more chance you have of getting one. So where do you start? The best place is your DEA (Disability Employment Advisor) at the Job Centre. The DEA can be helpful in three ways;-
They may have a capital grant for you to apply for things like equipment or advertising.
They will have information on Benefits that you can still receive whilst in self employment.
Most importantly, they may know other organisations who do offer grants and loans.
This is the best way to play the numbers game with grants. Often a trip to the job centre will unearth other organisations that could help, but again more importantly they may know of other organisations and so on. Do you see how this can snowball?
The main ones are Job Brokers – These are partner organisations that work alongside the Job Centres to give specialist advice on how to return to work. They sometimes have a grant of between £250-£500 available when you start work/self employment. The Job Centre may work with several Job Brokers so it’s important you sign up with the one who is offering you the most money. I would phone each one up and ask them what they can do financially to help you start up.
After exhausting this avenue, I would then do some research, either on the Internet or via telephone and find other organisations that could help. National organisations such as your local Council and Business Link may have small pots of money, but again, always ask if they know of others who could help.
The next set of organisations I would try is Charities specific to your disability. The best place to start is the big national ones. If I was visually impaired for example, I would contact the RNIB and ask them for assistance. Again I must stress, even if they can help always ask if they know of others. Then I would try the local groups, but not only the charities. Often neighbourhood services and community groups will have small pots of money to help you get back into work.