New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) is a programme designed to support unemployed people to move into self-employment by starting sustainable businesses. This qualitative research looked at participant and staff experience of the programme. The research was commissioned in August 2012 in order to help the Department understand which aspects of the programme were perceived as being particularly effective, or otherwise.
The research was based on eight case study visits to a selection of Jobcentre Plus districts allied to a set of telephone interviews with 198 NEA participants. Case study visits involved in-depth face to face interviews with staff from the Lead Accountable Bodies (LABs) delivering the programme on behalf of DWP, Jobcentre Plus staff involved in overseeing the programme, and mentors engaged by the LABs to support NEA participants. A total of seven interviews were undertaken in each district. Two focus groups with Jobcentre Plus advisers responsible for referring participants to LABs were also held in each district. Case study visits and participant interviews were undertaken in November and December 2012.
The most recent Official Statistics relating to NEA were published in February 2013. They show that from January 2011 up to and including November 2012 there were 31,540 starts with a New Enterprise Allowance business mentor and 15,210 starts to the New Enterprise Allowance weekly allowance. The full statistical release is available via the DWP statistics pages.
The Department will use the findings from the research to inform a communications campaign on NEA in May 2013 intended to increase awareness of the scheme. Findings will also be used to inform the design of any future self-employment support programmes.