More than 100 new businesses have been set up in Dumfries and Galloway and 4,660 in Scotland, thanks to a government scheme which helps people on benefits become their own boss – that’s an average of 460 every week over the last year across Great Britain.
As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to create jobs by backing small business and enterprise, the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) has helped jobseekers of all ages, lone parents and people on sickness benefits to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality.
The scheme provides jobseekers with start-up help and advice from a business mentor and financial support payable through a weekly allowance.
It is responsible for a wide range of new businesses across Britain, including a jewellery boutique that has featured its wares in Vogue magazine, a greeting card company catering for religious festivals, weddings and birthdays, and a carousel refurbishment business whose horses have appeared in Beyoncé concerts and Oasis clothing stores.
Minister for Employment, Esther McVey said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and are delivering a significant share of new vacancies - and it’s thanks to their hard work, creativity and entrepreneurial sprit that we are recovering from one of the biggest recessions in living memory.
“As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan we are successfully moving people off benefits, and helping them to achieve their dreams of becoming their own boss. Tens of thousands of new and innovative businesses are now up and running thanks to the scheme, some of which are now employing people and are helping to make the goods and provide the services which are powering the UK’s economic recovery.”
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.
Mentors also continue to give the budding entrepreneurs on-going support during the early months of trading.
Today’s figures show that the scheme helps people of all ages, with 12,360 businesses started by people aged 50 and over, and 3,920 businesses started by young people. 10,040 businesses were set up by disabled people and 3,510 by those from BME backgrounds.
Kati Kusche of StrEatery82, an outdoor catering business said: “We were looking for a business idea and then we hit upon a catering business to bring the tasty street food we had enjoyed so much in other continents to Dumfries and Galloway.
“We had a vision but we didn’t know what we had to do to make it happen. A4e were amazing. They helped us create a business plan, work our way through all the paperwork and make sure everything was done properly. We could call any time we had any questions. We were both really impressed at the support that was out there.
“Our mentor was really helpful. Our idea was pretty solid and we managed the practical side ourselves. We bought a caravan and converted it. We found a beautiful spot near Port William overlooking the Irish Sea. Our mentor gave us a lot of courage and confidence to go with it.
“We are really excited about the future. We have big plans.”
Levi Roots, the NEA ambassador and Founder of Reggae Reggae Sauce said: “Setting up your own business can be challenging but there’s no job that is more rewarding. Working your own hours, being your own boss and making your own money are just some of the reasons I started working for myself. But, as a businessman, I know how hard it can be to get started.
“That’s why I’m pleased to see the wide range of support that is available to all of those potential self starters. I’d strongly recommend seeing your local Jobcentre Plus Advisor who can guide you on the financial help available through the New Enterprise Allowance and on the benefits of expert mentoring.
“As a former mentor, I know what it’s like to work from the bottom and the importance of support when starting but there’s no other job like it. The flexibility, ultimate authority and ability to pursue your own passion make it the most satisfying job out there – I wouldn’t look back!”
“The New Enterprise Allowance scheme is just one of the ways DWP offers tailored support to benefit claimants through our 700 Jobcentre Plus offices. Work coaches also work closely with local employers and can fill skills gaps through our job academies, apprenticeships and work experience schemes.”
StrEatery82 - Kati Kusche and Ben Daures
After working their way around the world for five years, Kati Kusche and partner Ben Daures decided it was time to stop, put down roots and plan a stable future together. Having travelled to some of the planet’s most exotic destinations, it was Dumfries and Galloway that won their hearts. The one thing they did miss about their globetrotting adventures was the food.
So they have brought the tastes of their travels to their new home with a new outdoor catering business, which they set up with the help of the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance. (NEA)
“The area is so beautiful, we adore the feeling of space and the people,” said Kati, 32. “We both knew we could make this place home.
“One of the things we loved most about travelling was trying different dishes and ingredients and experimenting with cooking them. I have to admit, here the food is less exciting and varied, a lot of fish and chips and deep fried food.
“We were looking for a business idea and then we hit upon a catering business to bring the tasty street food we had enjoyed so much in other continents to Dumfries and Galloway.”
After working at a hotel in the Highlands, they found themselves on benefits during the winter season last year. When they told the Jobcentre of their entrepreneurial dreams, they were directed to the NEA, a UK Government support service that helps unemployed people wanting to start their own business.
NEA is available to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants aged 18 and over and delivered in Dumfries and Galloway by public services provider A4e.
Kati said: “I am from Germany and Ben is from France so we had no idea how things worked here in Britain. We had a vision but we didn’t know what we had to do to make it happen. A4e were amazing. They helped us create a business plan, work our way through all the paperwork and make sure everything was done properly. We could call any time we had any questions. We were both really impressed at the support that was out there.”
Once their business plan was approved, they were given financial support to help them through the difficult early days of starting up, as well as a volunteer business mentor.
Kati said: “Our mentor was really helpful. Our idea was pretty solid and we managed the practical side ourselves. We bought a caravan and converted it. We found a beautiful spot near Port William overlooking the Irish Sea. Our mentor gave us a lot o courage and confidence to go with it, saying that if our product was good enough, people would buy it.”
They opened their StrEatery82 van on Kati’s birthday and nervously awaited their first customers.
Ben, 32, said: “We change our menu all the time, offering our own dishes mixing flavours from around the world, such as Mexican tacos with a filling of the Korean national dish topped with cheese. We always try to use local ingredients and ensure our meat comes from farms where we know the animals have been well treated.
“We also make simple dishes which let these great ingredients speak for themselves. We are on a mission to give local people a healthy, tasty alternative to bacon rolls and chips. We were still worried it might not work but on the first day we had 10 customers and they all gave us great feedback and said they would bring their friends back.
“By week two, they were queuing up for it. It was a fantastic feeling. We are both doing something we are passionate about in a beautiful spot with an amazing view.”
They are about to pack up for the season, but are working on plans to expand and make their business viable through the winters.
Kati said: “The NEA allowance will help us develop our plans before we re-open in spring. We are really excited about the future. We have big plans.”