I have been a taxi driver in Devon for over 5 years, firstly as an employee and then, as a self-employed driver for the same company,driving the same company car, doing the exact same job for exactly the same income. This was not a personal choice but a company policy change.

Eighteen months later and I have been laid off because business is quiet and I find myself not entitled to contributionicon based job seekers allowance because my self employed contributions do not count ( a fact that I wasn't aware of ) and not entitled to income based job seekers allowance because my partner earns a little over the limit. Quite apart from the small help in income that belive me we could do with this has ment that I am also not entitled to other practical help that those in receipt of this benefit get.

The most frustrating is that I am attempting to get an office based job, which is something I used to do before I had my son 11 years ago, and I would like to get my skills up to date but I do not qualify for subsidised courses that I would get if I were in receipt of JSA. I am taking the European Computer Drivers License course which comes in two halves, in fact I started it two weeks before I was laid off. The first half costs 150 which I have paid, the second half, which is needed to complete the qualification costs 270 which I cannot afford and would be free if I was lucky enough to be in receipt of JSA. I would like to take other courses in order to help me get a job but cannot afford to.

I am perfectly willing and able to help myself back into gainful employment but have arrived at a brick wall that seems to stem just from the fact that I was unable to pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions as a self employed worker. What can I do?