PDA

View Full Version : Trying to become a full time writer via the New Enterprise Allowance?



GinnieHazel
03-20-2014, 05:27 AM
I'm currently unemployed and putting in my 35 hours a week searching for jobs but I don't have a whole lot of formal education and I've never worked for someone else before, and my plan to start A-Levels as a mature student means that I can't commit to a years apprenticeship (almost the only route for someone in my situation).

I've written erotica for sale before and done quite well, considering, but I've never really had the time to really go for it, and I figure if I spent these next 5 months till September writing full time I could see if I have what it takes.

The UK government has a scheme called the New Enterprise Allowance which you can find out about here: https://www.gov.uk/new-enterprise-allowance but I don't know if I'm a good candidate. There are a few case studies, but they read more like stereotypes than a reasonable cross section of what can be done.

The question is, do you think I could convince the Job Center and other important people that I don't just have my head in the clouds? That it would be worth them funding me (at a maximum, 1274 over 26 weeks, or 49 a week).

Is it possible to make a viable business plan for this, or am I kidding myself?

Old Hack
03-20-2014, 11:36 AM
I don't know if your local Job Centre would consider this: you really have to speak to them to find out.

But in my view, the best way to become a writer is to write. If you want to earn your living as a writer, write things people want to buy from you: articles for newspapers and magazines are probably going to be the quickest route to payment, but you won't get paid until publication, which can be three months or more after you write and submit the piece.

Parametric
03-20-2014, 02:07 PM
I've heard a lot of horror stories about the New Enterprise Allowance (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=3412255). I think part of the issue is that people are reliant on a complex interaction of benefits - not just unemployment benefit, but housing benefit and council tax benefit, to name the two other big ones - and beginning to receive income from self-employment jeopardises your entitlement to all kinds of stuff. Plus a lot of NEA advisors seem to be absolutely useless. I quit signing on entirely to focus full-time on getting my business off the ground (over two years ago) but I'm not sure if I would have done the same if I'd been relying on housing benefit to pay my rent.

Becky Black
03-20-2014, 02:15 PM
I suppose it's worth applying. But this bit might cause you trouble:

"A specialist will assess your business idea and if it has potential you’ll be signed up to the scheme, get financial support and a business mentor."

Unless you already have a proven track record of steady sales then as a business prospect writing looks about as sensible as "become a professional gambler" and the return for hours worked can make you consider piece work as a better way to make money.

It depends on how much risk they are prepared to pay out for, or if they want something with a more obvious chance of success.

JournoWriter
03-20-2014, 02:40 PM
Ah, the fascinating linguistic differences on the other side of the ocean ... to describe something as a "scheme" in the States has an entirely different meaning!

Jamesaritchie
03-20-2014, 07:02 PM
The first rule for any new business is to ask yourself two questions. 1. What might you gain by trying? 2. What do you have to lose by trying? If the probably gain outweighs the potential loss, you go for it.

Can applying for this really harm you in any way, other than a bit of lost time?

mirandashell
03-20-2014, 07:09 PM
Well yeah, it can.

The Benefit system at the moment is geared towards getting as many people off benefit as possible. And the NEA is a nightmare of assessment and reassessment by people who don't have much knowledge outside of benefit rules.

And OP, you could be risking the loss of your JSA as they may consider you as not actively looking for work, even if the NEA turn you down.

I would think long and hard about it.

And maybe a visit to the Citizen's Advice Bureau would be useful. They have experts in benefits.

Parametric
03-20-2014, 07:13 PM
Can applying for this really harm you in any way, other than a bit of lost time?

Um, yes. Being dependent on benefits is an extremely fragile state that can spiral into disaster at any moment. Let's say she applies for the scheme, there's a paperwork mixup, so housing benefit is cancelled, so rent doesn't get paid, so she gets evicted, so she's deemed to have made herself intentionally homeless, so she doesn't get rehoused and with an eviction on her record she can't rent another place, so she's homeless. All because of a paperwork mixup. Happens every day.

Torgo
03-20-2014, 07:15 PM
Have to agree with Miranda on that. I wouldn't try. The benefits system looks for any excuse to sanction you these days, and I think it's very, very unlikely they'd fund you in any case.

You might try a grant (http://www.fundsforwriters.com/grants/) of some kind?

Jamesaritchie
03-20-2014, 08:50 PM
Um, yes. Being dependent on benefits is an extremely fragile state that can spiral into disaster at any moment. Let's say she applies for the scheme, there's a paperwork mixup, so housing benefit is cancelled, so rent doesn't get paid, so she gets evicted, so she's deemed to have made herself intentionally homeless, so she doesn't get rehoused and with an eviction on her record she can't rent another place, so she's homeless. All because of a paperwork mixup. Happens every day.

Well, first, if you need benefits, you need them. It sounds like he needs them. But being on benefits is no excuse to let yourself depend on them, or stay on them permanently.

You are allowed to withdraw from them, aren't you? Or to keep looking for a good job while on them, aren't you?

I had a government grant many years ago that supported me for a year while I wrote, even tough I was already capable of supporting myself. I used that time to make money from my writing, and to find other options, just in case.

Things can always go wrong, but I'd wager that the large majority doesn't have a paperwork screw-up.

And, for that matter, people get evicted every day. This doesn't mean they're automatically homeless, or that no one will rent to them. If it did, every country out there would have streets jammed with homeless people, not because they were broke, but because they could find anyone who would rent to them, even if they have a pocketful of money.

I don't think it's wise to back away from something you need just because things might go wrong, just as I don't believe you should think of benefits as a long term plan. Benefits should be a chance to work your tail off, and to quickly find some other way of earning a living, if your original work doesn't pay off.

Torgo
03-20-2014, 08:59 PM
Well, first, if you need benefits, you need them. It sounds like he needs them. But being on benefits is no excuse to let yourself depend on them, or stay on them permanently.

You are allowed to withdraw from them, aren't you? Or to keep looking for a good job while on them, aren't you?

(The DWP now makes you jump through all kinds of hoops to continue to qualify for even your most basic welfare. If you make a single mistake, they'll sanction you, cutting off your money for six weeks or more. If you have no job, that's six weeks with literally no money.

It's all very well to say 'well, get a job then' but it isn't always that simple, especially when there aren't a lot of jobs around, and the Universal Jobmatch database the government was operating - a website aggregating loads of vacancies, and which dole claimants were expected to use - turned out to be so full of spam, scams and spoofs they're having to close it down.

Nowadays people are increasingly expected to go and do months of unpaid work stacking shelves in Poundstretcher to qualify for their tiny benefits cheque. The experience of working, but without dignity or advancement. Times are tough in the UK if you're unemployed, and being on benefits isn't necessarily a choice or an easy situation to escape from.)

waylander
03-20-2014, 11:16 PM
And, for that matter, people get evicted every day. This doesn't mean they're automatically homeless, or that no one will rent to them. If it did, every country out there would have streets jammed with homeless people, not because they were broke, but because they could find anyone who would rent to them, even if they have a pocketful of money.



James: Things are different over here. If you are not eligible for housing benefit and cannot scratch up a (substantial) deposit then literally no-one will rent to you.

GinnieHazel
03-21-2014, 03:32 AM
I feel I should point out that I'm not dependant on help with rent or council tax. When I left my last job I gave my one months notice on my flat and moved onto my parents sofa. I'd really like to get on NEA and I'm writing my business plan now but in my current position I'd be tempted to move off Jobseekers and try writing full time even if it meant trying to live off my savings till September.

Parametric
03-21-2014, 03:50 AM
That's good to know. In that case, since there's no risk of ending up homeless and/or starving, I think it's certainly worth a shot. When I was unemployed and living with my parents, we agreed that they'd support me for six months while I got my business off the ground, and we'd review after that. It worked out really well for me. Wishing you the best of luck.

GinnieHazel
03-21-2014, 10:19 AM
Definitely. I feel like if I don't start it now and give it a try I never will. I'm off to do A-Levels as a mature student this September (I'm not even doing English) and then hopefully going off to study Accounting. Writing is a love of mine but it's rarely something I can put first and if I can get some success I can at least justify it to myself.

shaldna
03-22-2014, 07:57 PM
I think the biggest issue you will have here is convincing someone that your 'business' is a viable idea. I mean, you can write every hour god sends, but that's no guarantee that you will be able to sell any of it. When it comes to breaking down your figures in your business plan, I think you might find it hard to show that it's a viable idea - I think the uncertainty in selling the finished product could go against you, as could the delays in payments following sales.

That said, I wouldn't necessarily be discouraged. If you have a good track record and good and CONSISTANT previous sales history that you can show the advisors then you might well be a good candidate for them.

mirandashell
03-22-2014, 11:11 PM
Definitely. I feel like if I don't start it now and give it a try I never will. I'm off to do A-Levels as a mature student this September (I'm not even doing English) and then hopefully going off to study Accounting. Writing is a love of mine but it's rarely something I can put first and if I can get some success I can at least justify it to myself.

Ahh... well that's different. If you can afford to spend the time writing, go for it. I certainly would if I could. And the NEA would be a bonus.

I have to agree with Shaldna. It's going to be tough convincing a non-writer that you can earn money on it but yeah.... go for it.

juniper
03-23-2014, 06:11 AM
James: Things are different over here. If you are not eligible for housing benefit and cannot scratch up a (substantial) deposit then literally no-one will rent to you.

That's the way it is here, too (West Coast USA). Big security deposits plus first and last months' rents. And references. And a steady job.

Housing can be tough for some, especially if you live in/near the city. Out in the sticks, easier usually.

OP: the New Enterprise Allowance sounds cool, I hope you can swing it. Nice that your living situation is taken care of for now.