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Lady Python

New Enterprise Allowance Scheme - Huge Problem

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I'm not sure if this is the correct place to put this on so Mods, please feel free to move.

 

I lost my permanent job late in 2016. Being older (almost 60 at the time), I've found, like many others in my age group that it's almost impossible to find a job.

 

I was asked at the Jobcentre if there was anything I could do to become self-employed. I am a good pianist and had been working towards getting my Diploma after an exam break of 40 years, thinking ahead to when I retire. I am one of the women caught in the 50s trap, no husband and a son who's still recovering from a recent kidney transplant. Life is not easy for us

 

Anyway, I got approval from the NEA to start a teaching business. To date I have not had a lot of interest despite advertising, my website, leafleting doors and anywhere else I can push my business. Just two adult students since I launched on 3rd January 2018 and I didn't get them until October.

 

It seems the NEA and the Jobcentre don't communicate very well. The Jobcentre has taken my start up day from the 18th November 2017. The NEA says I started trading on the 3rd January 2018 which is the date I launched the website and my business.

 

I now get £0 in Universal Credit, the reason being they are using the Minimum Income Floor of £1092 per month which is based on best case scenario estimation. I thought, fine, I don't get a penny from them but what I didn't get told is that my rent (council) wouldn't be paid either. This MIF is a hypothetical figure. Even from when I put in the business plan I have had to drop my prices to £10 for half hour and £19 for a full hour. This week I will earn £10 as one of my students can't come for personal reasons.

 

You can imagine my shock to find out the last payment the council received was on the 11th December 2018. I am now in serious danger of losing my home and my son and myself being thrown out into the street. I am 62 years old and my son is, as said earlier, still recovering from a kidney transplant which has not gone particularly smoothly.

 

I am really at my wits end. Something I thought would put us on the path to a better and more stable future has turned into a nightmare and I've done nothing wrong.

 

I was given a hard choice by the Jobcentre. Either give up my business which I've worked hard to promote and prove I've done that (how do you kill a website - I've already paid for the website and domain for a year, that doesn't end until December this year) and let down my two students, one of whom is very good and practising for her Grade 1 exam later this year or claim UC and completely kill the business. Not knowing that my rent was not going to be paid, I chose to keep on my business as I know it is the type of thing that will take time to build. A year (in my case less) is not a long time. The Jobcentre has now closed my UC claim but I have until May to reinstate it.

 

I have gone without, don't go out or do things other people do. I have been trying to get a job, either part or full time to help things out but get turned down constantly, usually by the agencies who come up with one excuse or another not to put me forward for jobs, the latest excuse being I haven't worked in an office for a year! 45 years experience as a secretary, often working at Managing Director level doesn't count.

 

I met last week with a representative from the NEA who didn't really seem to know why the MIF is playing such a big part in this or even why it's stopping me getting UC to top up my earnings. One can work 16 hours without losing UC or if working 30 hours, similar to the old Working Tax Credits which even applies to self-employed people. These are the people promoting this ghastly scheme and if they don't know how are the rest of us supposed to know? I spoke with the benefits office (their call centre in Scotland) on Friday. Lady there said I would have to get a Mandatory Reconsideration but that could take weeks and may not even be successful. I just tried to reinstate the UC claim - supposedly a one click operation. No, it isn't. Question upon question regarding employment if you work for a employer but absolutely nothing related to being self-employed (I have not completed these questions as they were ambiguous).

 

The Jobcentre advisor I had (or have) is a very nice person but came across as not knowing that much about the NEA scheme (which is run by Pinnacle People).

 

I feel I have been lied to and misled and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

 

From what I've gathered so far, it would seem that if I had started up my piano business on my own, without the NEA scheme I could have declared it to the Jobcentre as casual earnings and they would have simply deducted what I earned from my UC payment. Why there is such a difference between this and being self-employed via the NEA Scheme just doesn't make sense.

 

I hope someone sees this or knows of someone who has gone through this that can point me in the right direction.

 

I'm sorry this post is so long but I really am at my wits end to the point it's making me quite ill.

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271 views and not one reply? Seems there's a lack of information on the NEA scheme everywhere I look. Is it because this scheme is so flawed and dangerous? Begs the question that any negative feedback is being suppressed by the government?

 

I need to find other people who have fallen foul of this scheme.

 

If anyone knows of someone, please PM me.

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The NEA scheme is a red herring in this case. The MIF applies to everyone who is self-employed and claiming universal credit. After 12 months of self-employment the MIF applies, even where the claimant was self-employed for 12 months or more before claiming UC. You can thank the Tory government for that.

 

The argument is that if after 12 months you are not earning at least minimum wage for the hours you work in self-employment, the business is not viable. A problem with legacy benefits is that self-employment was used as an alternative to claiming unemployment benefits. People were claiming to be self-employed, not working but receiving the same amount in benefits as being unemployed while having no unemployment conditionality such as attending the Jobcentre regularly to sign on or perform other work related activity.

 

It's a good way to fiddle unemployment figures are hundreds of thousands of people claim to be self-employed while earning no money and surviving on benefits only. However, it backfired on the Tory government as the benefit bill massively increased. Now it wants to clamp down on paying out benefits to people who are bogusly self-employed to cut the benefits bill, hence the MIF under UC.

 

As the MIF has now triggered after 12 months and you are not earning enough to survive, one option is to claim benefits as unemployed and declare any income you receive from music lessons.

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In this situation, you could advise UC that you have stopped self employment and are now unemployed. The reason being that after xx number of months trading, you were only earnings £xxx per month, so not gainfully employed.

 

At least then you would receive the standard UC payment amounts.

 

The other potential solution, is if your Son was successful in applying for disability benefit such as PIP. If you provided caring, You could then claim carers allowance and also under the UC claim claim the carers element on the basis you cared for him atleast 35 hours a week. It is worth looking into this.

 

If it was then accepted that you were caring and could only do limited self employment, the MIF would be reduced.

 

Unfortunately, there is not very much a Job Centre Work Coach can do in this situation. It is Government policy to apply the MIF after someone has traded for 12 months. The MIF does not need to be set at 35 hours per week national minimum wage equivalent , if you have verified caring responsibilities for example.

 

The NEA is just additional help for some, but is not anything to do with the MIF. Signing up to NEA, won't enable the MIF to be reduced, as far as I understand. The 16 hour and 30 hours the NEA person mentioned is not part of UC. Under the old benefits system, there was a 16 hours permitted work hours amount, where the affect on benefit payment was limited.


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The other potential solution, is if your Son was successful in applying for disability benefit such as PIP. If you provided caring, You could then claim carers allowance and also under the UC claim claim the carers element on the basis you cared for him atleast 35 hours a week.

 

It's a good idea but just to clarify, the PIP claimant must be in receipt of the daily living component of PIP, the mobility component alone is insufficient.

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As the MIF has now triggered after 12 months and you are not earning enough to survive, one option is to claim benefits as unemployed and declare any income you receive from music lessons.

 

My son and I have been discussing just that. However, the JC want me to prove if I kill the business through HMRC and by killing my website. As far as I can see, my website is my own, bought and paid for by me and they have no right to tell me to kill it and prove it. In anycase, that would probably be quite difficult.

 

I know the NEA scheme is being revamped and one of the things in the pipeline is to increase the 12 months MIF to 24 months which is more realistic for anyone starting a business but, for now, that is not going to help me.

 

Even under UC, you can work 16 hours a week but must declare any earnings you make and it is deducted from the amount of UC received.

 

I really wanted the music business to succeed but there's been so little interest. People are looking at my website but no further response. We even, before my son got his latest transplant at the end of November leafleted a whole housing estate. Not one inquiry came from that.

 

I get worried when two factions who are supposed to be working together don't. That is, the NEA and the JC. Neither seem to have a clue about anything and can't even agree on dates. Where does that leave people in the same situation as me - in the wilderness. I have been seeking legal advice and even lawyers are at a loss.

 

I have a meeting with the JC later this afternoon. It is with a different work coach so I'll wait and see what he says.

 

I'll let you know later when I come back and thank you for your response.

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We looked into this a while ago but decided against it as it would be doubtful if I could have been classed as a carer. Now that my son's been transplanted and so far, so good, my son is hoping to be able to start work in the summer. He is applying to become an auxiliary nurse, hopefully in the renal unit he's familiar with so that will help financially a lot.

 

I've been applying for jobs since before Christmas and, as usual, get turned down or don't even get put forward for interviews. employers don't want 62 year olds.

 

This is a real bone of contention with me. I should have retired over 2 years ago but the last Labour lot increased the retirement age to 66 for women. I am one of those caught in the 50s trap. Single women like myself (widowed in my case and my late husband left us in dire straits) are the forgotten ones. We don't have a man at our backs to support us nor big, fat private pensions but get treated as if we were youngsters and physically capable of doing things we did 30 years ago, which most of us are not now.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm hardly the granny with the shawl type and don't look or act my age but the minute would-be employers guess the age group, they don't want to know - that's IF the agencies, which most jobs are through now even bother to read older jobseekers' CVs.

 

It's just a shame my music business hasn't worked out and it's not for the want of trying :frown:

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I don't think you have much choice, but to stop the business, advising HMRC and to take down the website. Unfortunately, it is not a business and at the moment it is unlikely to ever earn you enough to make a living. Think of how many students you would need to teach, just to provide earnings equivalent to national minimum wage per week.

 

In terms of finding paid work, in some areas of the country, this can be difficult, particularly those over 50. I wonder whether there are any organisations in your area that can help with this. Some Job Centres, local council authorities, various charity/not for profit organisations do work together to help. Many charity organisations offer paid work and are not just staffed by volunteers.


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Well, I had my meeting at the JC yesterday - and got the most obnoxious man I've met for a long time. He was bordering on being downright nasty. He was of no help at all except to arrange a meeting on Thursday with my usual work coach (thankfully, a nice person) so not much happening until then as far as the JC goes but will be seeking legal advice tomorrow again (they want to know what's happening too).

 

Had a meeting with our rent officer at the Council. As soon as we mentioned the MIF, she rolled her eyes. She was saying she has another tenant in exactly the same boat as us justnow and has had many more caught out by the MIF so we're not alone. TBH, she was brilliant and did a lot to allay my fears.

 

I question the legality of the JC insisting I remove my website and, since it's paid up to December not sure how I'd do that anyway. It does not belong to them - it is my property and belongs to me, so technically they have no real right to tell me what to do with it (in an ideal world). Forcing the issue is, in effect, blackmail which I thought was illegal in this country (but hey, it's the government and they seem to be able to get away with anything).

 

I need to keep the roof over my head and they know they've got me over a barrel on that one and so, for the time being I will have to comply. However, as soon as I can get a job, or more likely my son does, they can stick their UC where the sun don't shine (yes, my back's up) and I will continue with my business on my own at my leisure as it will then have nothing to do with them.

 

The comforting thing that did come out of my meeting with the council is that there are many others who have been bitten by this glorified $-c-a-m. On our own, we are one voice. Together, we could be quite formidible so I'm looking at ways on how to contact these people.

 

Until people stand firm and challenge these ridiculous - and cruel rules, things will never change.

 

I'll update again later.

Edited by Lady Python

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Your complaint directly relates to Government policy and therefore it is your MP that you should be contacting.

 

Please be warned that MP's will reply in a blunt way, that Government policy is not to support via benefits, any struggling business person running a business that is not covering their living costs, for an extended period. They give someone 12 months to start earning enough and the minimum income floor is designed to give people the push to stop running a business that is not really providing gainfull employment.

 

I have seen a number of MP letters, where they just state information which you will already know.

 

If you remember, the previous Tory chancellor George Osborne was accussed of using Universal Credit as a way of reducing benefit help. If people have to go onto UC without any transitional protection, then they could well be worse off than they were under the old benefits. I have seen examples of self employed people who received help from tax credits and housing benefits, being reduced to seeking help from friends/relatives and foodbanks, as they had no money.

 

If the system Government has in place does not support you and they are not going to change it, you either give up the self employment, seek paid employment, so you can receive benefit help or you decide to try to make a living without any benefit support. The choice is yours.

 

As a business idea, have you enquired with large private care homes, whether their residents would be interested in piano lessons to maintain active minds. Might be worth making enquiries.


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