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

deborah hollyoak says:
December 21, 2017 at 09:41 PM
this year in march 2017 I was put on universal credits after a change in my life I was left without no benefits until june as they didn't kow what benefit to put me on I ended on esa for the stress and anixty been left on top I complined before loads of times I was made homeless as no rent or money n no money for food I had my assment in spetember was told I could work put me back on universal credits waited 6 weeks without no money again and now its sorted out fully in novmeber this year but I live alone and single iam only just barely mandging with 284 pounds a month after they taken money for the advanment payment igot after 5 weeks of waiting so for say 6 months of this year all in all I had no money to live or no money to buy food lucky I have a few friends and family but iam independent person and very proud woman so hate asking to borrow money or asking for food I really hate it it should be paid every two weeks the same as everyone on esa and other benefits and it should be equall to other people who are on the welfare system who r getting
Andrew white says:
December 21, 2017 at 09:37 PM
My name is Andrew white . My claim for universal credit has been live since August 2017 . I have to say that only has my experience shocked saddened and outraged me it has left me at the lowest point in my life for many years . So from the off universal credit for me and my family has been a complete and utter shambles not only are the policies for the self employed absolutely ridiculous the service has been shocking . From day one universal credit made mistakes and some months later after complaint on top of complaint highlighting the inadequacy it.s still mistake after mistake . The minimum income floor has forced me to cease trading as the m.i.f penalised whole families and not just the self employed individual.i started my engineering business in Apr 2014 I had no investment and worked all hours to get it off the ground and keep it going for a couple of years I did not receive any state support . Ok so I wasn't making thousands in profit but I was not taking anything out of the welfare pot . I would like to point out universal credit were not interested in looking at any business activity and or anything I was doing to further my growth. I would like to point out at this point that universal credit makes no distinction between self employed work and a self employed individual who is running a full blown business .to give you an example welding and manufacturing contracts simply do not just find you it.s a very difficult process in that a business needs to be able to create a industry recognised standard of product correctly price and market this product and satisfy all relevant legislation with regards to product and public liabity risk assessments method statements etc etc .Given all this it takes a very long time to build relationships wit customers and in any event most of this process cannot be done in 12 months . I would like to add that if universal credit were interested in my business activity they would have seen my goal was to totally get away from state support in any way . But the cliff edge of the m.i.f made this impossible further to this at the point me and my family needed support a 12 month period would of helped it.s begs the question why were we claiming universal credit in the first place the answer is because we needed it and if I was earning the m.i.f it wouldn't be needed and I certainly would not be trying to jump through all the universal credit hoops If I didn't need the support . I would also like to point out that universal credit seemed to have a severe lack of guidance training and support to help the self employed..tje monthly reporting burden is absurd also it has been stated by govt that it exsists to stop under declaring income . I put it to you that if an individual is hellbent on under declaring then that individual would simply under declare to h.m.r.c and d.w.p respectively thus not solving the problem at all . Secondly the workload involved in preparing individual accounts for the the two dept is distracting further from profit making activity because as the title suggests self employment is just that we have to do everything our self .I sincerely wish universal credit were even remotely interested in my work and how I proposed to grow my manufacturing business which is one thing this country needs they looked at absolutely zero evidence of my activity by claimed they had in mandatory reconsideration. Actually the truth is I had fictional amounts of income attributed to my claim which was unreasonable irrational and in my mind unlawful.on the back of that to further penalise my whole family is outrageous . Universal Credit needs to really look at the term gainfully self employed and determine much better criteria for being deemed g.s.e or not .again looking into actual business activity at this point would be a good idea . I do appreciate the need for weeding out individuals who seek to claim to be self employed but are actually just trying to get around conditionality I can personally say these policies are just too arbitory in nature and are actually putting real entrepreneurial aspirations out of reach for the lesser privileged in society and that is just not a fair system . Please please think about a tailored package for self employed people within the universal credit system rather than trying to include them into legislation that is aimed at unemployed or employed individuals because it.s universally different in every way
Edward roberts says:
December 21, 2017 at 12:19 AM
The introduction of conditionality to tax credit claims with the roll out of universal credit clearly shows that the person responsible for its conception and development one Stephen Brian, as well as the u.k government dont understand the concept of self employment, maybe as their prospective is purely academic as in most collages they have little contact with reality as is often the case what looks good on paper looses its lustre when we see how it impacts people in the real world, as for the government they probably saw the opportunity to save money and cut benefits as their
true motivation rather than any notion of a higher ideal, such as making the benefit system more manageable.
in this area we are seeing not only the self employed who are affected by the changes closing down their business, but other firms responding to the problems by considering closing down and moving to more profitable areas as a direct result of whats happening.
Mrs. Maureen Morton says:
December 20, 2017 at 10:24 PM
Dear Sir/Madam,

Eligibility for universal credit on the government website - here is the website - https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit - states:-
'If you’re in a full service area
You can get Universal Credit in a full service area if you:

are 18 or over
are on a low income or unemployed
are not in full-time education or training
If you’re in a live service area

You may be able to get Universal Credit in a live service area if you:

are 18 or over
are single
are a couple or family living in certain areas.'

However, directly below the above wording it states:-

'Even if you meet these conditions, you can’t apply for Universal Credit in a live service area if you:

.../are self-employed
.../are not able to work or look for work due to a health condition or disability
.../are a homeowner


The above words give the firm belief that the self-employed, disabled people and home owners (as well as others such as pregnant or with a baby no more than 15 weeks old) cannot claim universal credit. However, on the next page, (here is the webpage - https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/what-youll-get -
it states:-


3. What you'll get
Your Universal Credit payment is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you, for example if you:

.../have a disability or health condition

contradicting the first page stating, 'you can’t apply for Universal Credit in a live service area if you:
are not able to work or look for work due to a health condition or disability'

On the same page it again conversely states:-
'Housing costs
You could get money to help pay your housing costs. How much you get depends on your age and circumstances.

The payment can cover:

mortgage interest
interest on a loan secured against your home
How your earnings affect what you get'

The above words again contradict the first statement:
'Even if you meet these conditions, you can’t apply for Universal Credit in a live service area if you:

.../are not able to work or look for work due to a health condition or disability
are a homeowner

The first statement contradicts the second and requires urgent amendment.

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. Maureen Morton
Heena Morgan says:
December 20, 2017 at 09:56 PM
After my ESA was withdrawn, I was left with two chronic illnesses as well as other medical conditions. I can't work with other people as I also have MCS, so perfumes/aftershaves/other smells make me ill. I managed to secure work as a dogsitter. However, my conditions mean I an only manage one dog at a time but this also acts as my unique selling point. The money is not great, my fee has to be inline with a kennel - so I get paid £20 per day. This is the only job I have identified that can accommodate my fluctuating conditions. There is no way I could manage without tax credits and there is no way I could reasonably increase my income without severe detriment to my health. If the aim of WCA was to focus on what you can do and not what you can't do - why doesn't Universal Credit reflect this?
Denise says:
December 20, 2017 at 07:49 PM
I’m a single of one child, I started my self employment 5just under 5 years ago, 3 years ago I had to move to a more affordable location and start over again. It’s picking up but is taking time, I rely on my tax credits as my child’s dad hasn’t been around for nearly 5 years and his contribution to our child’s upbringing is minimal and if I go to the CSA it will be even less. Ive put everything I have into building my business, I do a lot of unpaid work trying to get more business in, if I get put onto UC I will not meet the MIF every month and will not be able to feed my son. Maybe the government should penalise absent fathers more and make them pay a decent amount of money towards their children they walk away from instead of penalising the parent who works their backsides off trying to juggle a business and child alone. I’ve also had to start home educating my child due to him falling very behind in school because the current curriculum is set higher than their natural age and his mental health is starting to suffer. The government really need to get their priorities in the right order. Me and my son struggling to live whilst his dad has 3 holidays a year.
Helen Dearnley says:
December 20, 2017 at 12:20 PM
Artists in the UK should not be relying on welfare to subsidise arts council cuts and grantium proposal rejections, in order to continue to practice. Artists should have a living income at a level commensurate with their level of expertise, according to a-n's artist fees toolkit. Especially graduate artists. Universal Credit is a disaster for self employed artists, and undermines our rights to earn a living for our work, according to Article 27 of the Human Rights Act. Artists need to be properly paid, not underpaid or unpaid and made to rely on charity, welfare, loans or left destitute by Universal Credit delays and arts council grant rejections.
Sales of work are too low compared to the amount of time, effort and materials put into producing high quality artwork, and potential customers are unable to afford work due to cuts, which is impacting my ability to earn a decent living.
Een "Portrait Of Ian Duncan Smith With Bandaged Nose", which was exhibited at the Institute of Mental Health last year, didn't sell. Yet Ian Duncan Smith is still paid a large salary. Yet artists, who actually create value, are apparently supposed to rely on welfare, charity, loans, and thin air to work.
As well as being an artist, I'm also a Carer, and a single parent supporting an adult with a mental health condition, and I would rather support myself and my family with a decent income, which is my right, than have destitution imposed upon us by this wretched system that I have not asked for, and do not want, and sets out to financially punish us as much as my abusive ex husband used to. I refuse to allow Universal Credit to be the final nail in the coffin for my career as an artist. It's my right to earn a living from my work as an artist, not from other sources (other underpaid work, welfare or charity).
With the failure of a system that can provide artists with a decent living income, Universal Credit will not be used to financially abuse us further. It must ensure that we have enough income to support ourselves and our families in line with a-n's artist's fees toolkit. Anything else is a direct human rights violation, and must be investigated by the UN.
John Latham says:
December 20, 2017 at 09:07 AM
I am self-employed and also volunteer at Citizens Advice Wirral. This means that I am in a position to be well aware of what Universal Credit (as it stands) will (and does) mean for the self-employed. Self-employed workers like me are sometimes in demand on a seasonal basis, and have quite slim pickings for large parts of the year. The bureaucracy associated with Universal Credit Full Service for the self-employed will be difficult to negotiate, whilst the Minimum Income Floor is a big obstacle to people getting by. We all appreciate that self-employment should be gainful, but we were encouraged to be entrepreneurial by society and have bravely taken up the challenge of self-employment. The Government said it wanted strivers not skivers, but will now likely apply massive burdens to the self-employed. Universal Credit has already impacted negatively on many people where I live (the details being confidential), but when the sanctions hit more single parents, self-employed, low paid and unwell folk the result with be a tsunami of suffering- a mental health disaster that the local health service is ill-equipped to meet.
Grant Smith says:
December 20, 2017 at 07:47 AM
As people like myself on zero hour contracts seem to have NOT been given a platform to contact you I've used the self employed option as a last resort! I haven't had a shift at work for two months so no income and I received a £250 tax rebate on the 10th of November only to find that my December UC payment was short by £200. I now have no shifts in December/January yet expected to live for 5 weeks on £107. I'm 42yo and have had to move back with my elderly, 75yo Mother who lives on a state pension and as such I get no assistance with rent. I've had to cancel Christmas as I'm unable to buy gifts but more importantly food, electricity and gas. All I want to do is kill myself because of the sheer contempt that I'm being shown due to (DWP's words), I'm not a priority. I can't afford internet access so I'm even unable to find out where the local food banks are. This government will be responsible for my death due to the callous nature of MP's showing such contempt for their fellow human beings. I can't take this anymore and it's all down to the UK government!
Annmarie Watson says:
December 20, 2017 at 07:30 AM
I'm self employe, the MIF is wrong it should be done yearly not monthly. It's acceptable to ask self employed people to earn that every month. People need holidays or sick days for them self or children. How can anyone work 52 weeks s year without a hoilday. I have a daughter with PTSD and can't Function day to day like other children. Her tendency At school is 70% this year and I've needed time off with her!!!! I could never work for someone because of the flexibility I need. Also I have to drive her to school to meet a school bus which isn't on time most days. My daughter would have a 2 an half hour travel time everyday if I was made to give being self employed. Why is it that self employed people have to earn more than employed people and we aren't allowed time off... UC does NOT take people's personal home life into account!!!!! Once I'm put on this I'll have to give my business up and go on unemployment benefit and no one will take me on because of my daughter. She has taken an overdose cut herself on a number of times flash backs at school which means I need to drop work a drive 75 miles round trip to pick her up.