Press release

More than 40,000 budding entrepreneurs helped off benefits

More than 40,000 people have moved from claiming benefits to running their own business thanks to New Enterprise Allowance.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Levi Roots

More than 40,000 people have moved from claiming benefits to running their own business thanks to a government scheme that helps unemployed people turn their dreams of becoming their own boss into a reality.

These new businesses range from weight loss coaching and a vegan restaurant to a bespoke wedding service and a building firm.

Since its launch in 2011 as part of the government’s long-term economic plan to back small businesses and help people into work, the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) has created 40,240 new businesses – that’s around 2,000 people every month in the last year helped to get off benefits and set up on their own.

The NEA offers expert mentoring and financial support to people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, lone parents and people on sickness benefits who want to start up their own business, which Minister for Employment Esther McVey has heralded as creating a new enterprise generation.

Minister for Employment Esther McVey said:

Small businesses are the heartbeat of the continuing success of the country, so it’s great that tens of thousands of budding entrepreneurs have been helped to make their dreams of becoming their own boss a reality.

As the economy continues to grow this new enterprise generation may well go on to become the employers of the future, which is great for the individuals and their families, but it is also good news for the country as well.

It’s particularly welcome that so many women have started their own business through NEA. This shows the benefit of having an expert mentor, and I’d like to encourage more business experts, especially women, to sign up to help the next generation of entrepreneurs secure their future.

Today’s figures also show that the scheme helps people of all ages, with 9,260 businesses started by people aged 50 and over, and 2,910 young people also becoming their own boss. 7,420 disabled people have also set up in business thanks to the NEA.

The New Enterprise Allowance is available to people over 18 who are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, lone parents on Income Support, or people on Employment and Support Allowance in the work-related activity group.

People on the scheme get expert help and advice from a business mentor who will help them to develop their business idea and write a business plan. If the business plan is approved, they are eligible for financial support payable through a weekly allowance over 26 weeks up to a total of £1,274. Participants can also access a loan through the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills start-up loan scheme.

Mentors also continue to give the budding entrepreneurs on-going support during the early months of trading.

Case studies

Nathan Hewitt, 23 Cardiff

A slimmer who was once one of Britain’s most obese children has set up a weight loss coaching business with support from the NEA. Nathan Hewitt, from Merthyr Tydfil, weighed 23 stone when he was just 15 but created his own fitness plan to lose half his body weight before he was 20. He is now helping others to do the same with one-to-one coaching and seminars, and plans to go into schools to help tackle the growing problem of childhood obesity. He has launched a successful business, ‘Try This for Size’. ‘

‘Skills Instructor’ Peter Groom, 50, Staffordshire

After gaining years of experience in the environmental and nature industry, Peter Groom has started his own business as a Primitive Skills Instructor. Peter now runs bush craft and primitive survival skills courses, where he teaches, bows and arrows skills, tan buckskin making, tracking, camouflage, stalking, flint knapping and identifying wild edible plants.

Inga Dirzuit, 23, Shalesmoor – Full Steam Ahead

When Inga Dirzuit became unemployed and found the process of looking for a new job unfruitful, the 26 year-old began to think about her lifelong love of cooking and the knowledge that she had gained about healthy eating and healing food remedies. Inga has now opened a vegan restaurant, Pure On Raw, opened in Shalesmoor just over a year ago and business is booming. Inga has expanded into food box and juice detox production which has attracted customers nationwide and also delivers educational cookery classes. She is even penning her first vegan recipe book!

Kelly Redhead, 23, from Sheffield

A 23-year old who developed a business KMR Bespoke Bridal Designer, a made-to-measure bespoke wedding and occasion wear service. Her business was even recommended in the latest issue of Vogue, for its unique designs and excellent service

Simon Short, 16, ex-offender who now delivers education and training to ex-offenders to help reintroduce them to life outside of prison

A Grimsby entrepreneur, who had himself spent 16 years of his life in and out of custody, is calling on more ex-offenders to take advantage of support available to help them set up their own business.

Simon Short, who set up education and training social enterprise, The Intelligence Project. The 31-year-old is speaking from experience, having left prison over two years ago only to endure a “dehumanising experience” doing factory work as part of an agency.

More information

Read the full breakdown of NEA statistics (April 2011 to December 2013)

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Published 27 March 2014