COMMONS

Universal Credit - self employment web forum

This forum has now closed. The deadline for comments was Wednesday 10 January 2018.

Background

Earlier this month we did some calculations which showed that under Universal Credit, a self-employed parent of two is £300 a month worse off than an employee earning exactly the same in a year. This is because of the way Universal Credit is calculated for self-employed people whose income fluctuates month to month.

On November 29 we asked a panel of experts what were the next biggest priorities to fix Universal Credit, and they told us it’s the Minimum Income Floor and making UC work for self-employed people.

We asked for your views on the following questions:

  • What has been your experience of claiming Universal Credit as a self-employed person?
  • Have you been affected by the Minimum Income Floor? If so, how and why?
  • What changes would you make to Universal Credit for the self-employed?
  • What is the nature of your business and how long has it been operational?

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56 Responses to Universal Credit - self employment

Raymond McKenna says:
January 13, 2018 at 10:36 PM
In Feb 2016 I was put on UC as self employed. I was a plasterer and painter and decorator. I was told it replaced working tax credits, I was told to allocate 30 hrs a week looking for work even though I was working, when employers phoned me I had to apologize for wasting their time as I could be asked to start a plastering job at any time. There is more to tell as I was stuck with them until may 2017 and in all that time I don't believe that anyone in the DWP was actually trained to support those in self employment, it was a farce and caused considerable strain in my personal life. I required the safety net that our forebares fought for and I am disgusted with the government, do they really want to separate the wheat from the chaff in such a brutal manner?. I am no longer self employed due to various on going injuries, I am actually at the third stage of an appeal where I didn't earn enough points to be considered unfit for work in a work capability assessment, financially it doesn't make a difference anyway as both ESA and jobseekers fall under UC and it's the same amount of money, the government are deliberately trying to discourage and dishearten people, their dishonour has only increased my determination to get healthy again. For much the same reasons as the farcical implementation of UC I have to wait for 38 weeks to see an orthopedic consultant, I was referred in may 2017 and will see the consultant in march 2018 hopefully and find out then what treatment is required to get me back contributing to society. The government policies have actually slowed down my ability and to return to work or further education. Please stop this UC nonsense, all our forebares will be ashamed of all of us for allowing the greedy to reign supreme.

Thank you
Raymond McKenna
TRees says:
January 12, 2018 at 02:17 AM
I am adding to this consultation, because Universal Credit has not worked from offset.
I find it rather obvious when so many people are trying to inform their MPs or yourselves on here, that it is failing them but severely harming them more.
UC is because of this Government's ideology and they never calculate how people are supposed to pay for roof over head and bills and food, because Tories want to boot people off benefits, they are chewing up and spitting out both workers who are trying and sick that can't work at all or some disabled that are very limited.
To summarise it is grossly unfair and needs to be scrapped.
I feel you may not like that response, but it needs saying!
The cost of living is going up fast, wages are down and there is now an estimate of about £26000 figure that should be minimum wage if it fell in line with bosses pay rise rate.
Reality is people struggle to get anywhere near that figure of a wage for themselves, not even half that.
Government needs to ensure everyone at the bottom end has enough to live on, not remove supporting monies at all, but do a full impact assessment.
Gov needs to not remove any monies from sick / disabled that they would have got under legacy benefits and certainly not to bring about what DWP class as a change of circumstances, in order to remove monies or passported benefits.
Severe Disability Premiums need to be kept.
Nobody should be worse off under UC from the sums previously entitled to - it is illegal!
Lis Johnstone says:
January 10, 2018 at 06:49 AM
My experience has been very 'hit and miss' and, on times, beyond stressful.
My mother (and incidentally my father too) died in April 2018. I was my mums carer and my carers allowance was stopped on June 19th as per the 9 week rule. Because of the shock of the very sudden and unexpected double bereavement; I was unable to immediately claim Universal credit and did not claim until Sept 2017.
From that point on; my claim has been hampered by the administrative error that says I am still claiming carers allowance. So not only am I dealing with the bereavement; readjusting to working after caring for several years; my own health battles ( I am registered disabled and receive PIP) I am dealing with a system that refuses to acknowledge I cannot possibly be still claiming carers allowance as my mum died in April 2017!
My husband has been hit by the wrongly applied MIF- we are both in the first year of trading and MIF should not apply - no account seems to have been made of how we've got to be claiming. The underlying assumptions surrounding Universal credit are sound but just poorly executed and for anyone with depression or any sort of processing or mental health system; navigating 'the system' is a nightmare!
I'm a Dyslexia support tutor - just starting out after several years of full time caring. It's very, very daunting running your own business whilst dealing with bereavement etc
El Adams says:
January 08, 2018 at 09:52 PM
I am not currently on UC but on tax credits & housing benefit. I am self employed working as a cleaner in private homes, which I have been doing for several years, while I build up my business as a complementary therapist treating both people & dogs. I have spent alot of my time & money on training as a therapist, in the hope that eventually I will have a successful career which will pay me well enough to not have to rely on in work benefits at all. I take what I do very seriously & spend alot of my free time on reading books & publications relevant to my therapy as I am really passionate about it. I am also a single parent of 2, aged 6 & 4. I am extremely worried about how I will be affected by UC & the MIF once I have to apply. As a single parent my work is affected by many factors - if one of my kids is sick off school I have to cancel work for the day to look after them: there is a school holiday every other month& I find it hard to find childminders I can use just in holiday times who would match the sporadic nature of self employment. I am usually unable to work evenings or weekends due to childcare, I have no family in the area I live & my children's father is not present in their lives. Also I am affected if a client cancels, which happens quite regularly. Without the help I currently get to fall back on it would be very hard for me to make ends meet, at times I would not have enough money to run my car so I wouldn't even be able to get to work & if I received no help with rent I would be made homeless. I would have no choice but to cease trading, effectively becoming unemployed, in order to look for non self employed work, disappointing the clients I currently have. All the time & energy I have put into retraining as a therapist, attending practitioner workshops to update my skills, promoting what I do & contacting potentially interested groups would have been in vain. This is very worrying for me & I am very concerned that the MIF does not take into consideration the personal circumstances of a large sector of hard working people.
Michael Alsop says:
January 08, 2018 at 09:48 PM
I am a Chartered Accountant and was today calculating the effect of the new Universal Credit on my self-employment clients. I was shocked to learn about the 'Minimum Income Floor' rule which will prohibit MOST of my self-employed clients from claiming UC while they now claim WTC. The majority of self-employed people make nowhere near employee wages because of business overheads yet the MIF takes no account of these necessary costs. I myself have never made the equivalent of minimum wage as a Chartered Accountant so I can't see how a builder or hairdresser can. It is completely unrealistic to assume a full time self-employed person could achieve a profit of c£14,000 per year! Factoring in the generous paid holidays, sick pay and maternity pay that employees get means the true comparison with employees is even wider. The MIF should be replaced with actual taxable profits, or at the least allow the self employed to deduct their expenses from the £14,000 floor and take into account the hundreds of non-remunerated hours the self-employed have to put in each year to run their businesses. Unless this is fixed before implementation I can foresee a massive increase in unemployment claimants.
Frank Raczynski says:
January 08, 2018 at 07:04 PM
I am a self-employed composer. I am currently receiving Working Tax Credits but I am terrified of the introduction of Universal Credit to my area as I will lose all my income.
The government is always full of praise for the creative arts. As a nation we are at the top of the creativity league table, our art is one of our greatest exports, earning billions of pounds in revenue but this government has absolutely no idea about how it is created. Be it music, literature, painting, sculpture or whatever, the mediums are all different but there is one common thread that links them.
To record an album, write a book, create a painting, produce a sculpture, takes a great deal of time. It takes many months, years even to arrive at the finished article. All you ever see is the final result and one can only guess at the amount of work that has gone into it. Nobody ever sees the rough drafts or hears the multiple takes that lead up to it, or sees the brushed over canvases that preceded it. This cannot be valued at an hourly rate. Artists work speculatively, hoping that when their work is finished, and only when it is finished, it will sell. There are no guarantees. If it doesn't sell it's back to the drawing board. It's not a question of quality, there are far too many factors at play. Success can hinge on the unlikeliest of circumstances.
The vast majority struggle to make ends meet. A steady income is not and has never been how this sector of the economy works. To require self-employed artists to have a minimum income in order to receive Universal Credit will result in the decimation of artists who currently rely on Working Tax Credits, not to make a living but merely to survive. To drive struggling artists away from the vocation they love is not only shortsighted in the cultural loss to our society but the potential financial loss also.
To a government that loves money above all else it's no surprise to find that in knows the value of nothing but to learn that it also knows the price of nothing shows how much it holds people who are trying to create something worthwhile and unique in contempt.
Ruth Lambert says:
January 08, 2018 at 05:01 PM
I have been a freelance musician, performer and educator since 1987. I am also a single parent with sole responsibility for my 10 year old son.
My income is derived from teaching work in local schools and universities and regular performances.
I am at present in receipt of working tax credit and child tax credit.Once I have been 'migrated' over to Universal credit, my financial situation, already difficult as a single parent, will become far more precarious.
For 6 of the monthly assessment periods I will be over my 'nil UC threshold'. For the other 6 months I will be considerably below my MIF and only entitled to approximately half of the support that I get at the moment, which will also trigger the loss of any 'transitional protection' that I may be entitled to.
Over the year I earn more than a full time wage at national minimum wage level. However I will receive considerably less UC support than someone earning the same amount in a PAYE job.
How can this be fair? There are very, very few PAYE jobs out there for performing musicians and those working in the state education system. Self-employment is not a lifestyle choice.....it's a necessity. Surely the self-employed should be able to average out their earnings over the year for UC purposes as they do for HMRC. Monthly reporting will at best be difficult for most, especially when the accounting rules are so very different from those required by HMRC.



Kathleen Mcginnity says:
January 08, 2018 at 03:55 PM
I am a self employed taxi driver, I have had MIF Applied for over a year now since October 2016.
I recently became ill and had to fight to have MIF Suspended temporarily as I was left on zero income.
I actually heard my case being mentioned by Victoria Dodd at a select committee but thought it sounded very over simplified.
It has been a struggle to manage for the last year or so, I have a chronic illness and need regular medication, since MIF was applied I have lost all eligibility for free prescriptions, dental and sight tests.
I am over working to try and survive, I am going without essential medication, all this has contributed to me becoming quite seriously ill and ending up in hospital.
I am now trying to have my MIF reduced and my application has been sent to a decision maker.
I have found UC To be cruel and punishing and extremely stressful, I am coming to the end of my tether and really running out of ideas now.
I have been on UC since October 2014, I am deeply entrenched in the system and have encountered every flaw in the system being employed, Unemployed and self employed.
I dread to think what will happen as more and more people get tortured with this regime, there will be widespread misery, poverty and deaths.
joanne thomson says:
January 08, 2018 at 02:28 PM
am only just starting out and about to transfer to NEA. it takes time to build up customers and some are only one stop not repeat. in the first year there needs to be good sound support so that funds can be reinvested in the business. after all this will pay taxes eventually and also possibly employ others. a person who has an enterprise needs a backer and investor , someone who will support them and make sure they are living withing the governments 'minimum amount to live on' just the same as there is trust with reporting work search there must be the same reporting of what work has been achieved in the business and how much earned. most business starting out won't be doing 35 hours a week actual earning but they maybe doing activities to gain work. a proper monitoring and support system should be in place and a step up of system of MIF not immediately assumed 35 hours actual paid work but a tired MIF. to go self employed from no work at all is terrifying and we do not have the funds to invest while also paying basic rent. how do i go from having no money to supporting a business? and how do i support advertising, a website and time spent initiating customers when initially the income is low,inconsistent and unreliable at first. it would work if the person venturing self employment from nothing , no capital was supported for a year with the reporting their progress and any earnings in place. the idea is to invest in industrial and creativity for the British economy. you cannot support a failing business granted but you can give a support that stops a person being homeless and hungry. would like to add that along with affordable housing there could be affordable business premises. a lot more shop units for budding businesses without horrendous business taxes at least until they are within an earning tax bracket
Katrina Dunlop says:
January 08, 2018 at 01:27 PM
In addition to my previous comment, the fact that UC is calculated over 52 weeks means that self employed people are not entitled to other rights employees have which is flexible working, time off for dependants, holidays, sick leave etc. I am not a machine! Most of my work shuts down for a month over dec/jan as clients are off, gardens are frozen solid!