Self-employed but caught in benefits trap: ask the expert

I’m currently on income support. I’m a skilled and trained performer and could set up as self employed and work now, but the problem I have is that I would only ever be contracted to work for an hour and a half at a time – for maybe three or four evenings a week.  I would earn too much to be able to claim income support, yet I would not work enough hours to claim working tax credit.  I have tried to explain that although I may only be contracted to work an hour and a half at a venue, I would probably be at the venue for a total of 5 hours, would be traveling for at least a couple of hours to get to and from the venue, and that’s not including all the preparation and rehearsal, yet they are adamant that I can only include actual hours worked, and suggest I get another job, or stay as I am. I don’t understand how this can work, It’s a full-time job by itself, and is what I’m trained to do.  If I was selling any other product, cars, furniture, I wouldn’t just charge for the moment I sold the product – the price would include the craftsmanship, labour etc. As a self-employed person, would I be able to break down the cost of what I was paid?  Or is there any way around this? I feel like I’m banging my head around a brick wall and would appreciate any help or advice you can give me.

This is a really interesting case and there may be a solution for you.

In the long term, you should go self employed.  Then when you are not actually performing you are looking for work or promoting your business.  You would definitely qualify for Working Tax Credits.

The bind that you are in at the moment is allowing the benefits people to dictate to you and the benefits advisor seems actually to be deterring you from bettering yourself.

There is a New Enterprise Allowance Scheme  which came into force in April 2011 which gives grants up to £2,000 to unemployed people to set up their own business.  So the advice you have been given is contrary to government policy.

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