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Self Employed, Single Parent, Universal Credit

(15 Posts)
Southwestwhippet Mon 01-Oct-12 16:51:07

AIBU to be worried about this. Can some expert MNers advice?

Been researching but it is very complicated...

Basically my situation is that I am single parent to a 2 year old. I am a self-employed riding instructor, work on average between 16 and 20 hours a week depending on how many lessons I teach. I have 11 fixed hours, the rest are variable. Some weeks I might have loads, if weather bad, I might have fewer. Also these lessons are not at fixed times, it varies from week to week.

I frequently have to work 'unsociable' hours as evenings and weekends are when people are free to have lessons which makes childcare difficult although I have got a childminder who has DD two evenings a week. DD father not available for any childcare as he works away on a non regular basis so can NEVER commit to being around at a certain time unless he has 6 months notice. my parents help but they also work full time so a lot of flexible juggling is required by me.

First year of business net profit was around £5500. Hoping it is more this year but obviously being on my own with a toddler, it isn't always easy especially with poor weather this summer meaning riders have cancelled a lot. I currently recieve CTC, WTC and a small amount of HB.

My worries with new system are

> monthly accounting that doesn't seem to take into account annual outgoings (ie if I have a month where I have to pay my insurance or memberships I might fall below the minimum income floor but would make up for it in other months,

> monthly accounting doesn't take into account seasonal incoming - I earn considerably more in holidays when children want lessons more often (twice a week etc) than in the term time - I also teach pony club which is holiday only. I also tend to earn more in the summer than the winter as is outside work.

> Am not sure how many hours I need to work to not have to be available to workfare. If I had a slow month (poor weather etc) would I then be expected to attend workfare meeting or do unpaid short term work which would obviously make it impossible for me to arrange lessons with private clients therefore totally undermining my business

> Will I have to make a presentation on the validity of my business to the DWP in order to be eligable?

> also is it true that HB element will stop after 2 years regardless of income? Even if your earning power is restricted by being a single parent with a toddler?

Please if anyone could advice me, have I understood correctly? the more I am reading online the more anxious I am becoming. Whilst I agree that the benefit system needs updating, this UC seems to be massively penalising people like me trying to run a small business as a single parent.

RedHelenB Mon 01-Oct-12 16:56:31

Try not to worry as it has not come in yet. Who owns the stables and horses?

Southwestwhippet Mon 01-Oct-12 16:59:12

I teach people on their own horses at their own premisis (or ones they have hired). I also freelance at a local riding school - that is the regular hours.

You are right about not worrying, I suffer from mild OCD so have a tendancy to get fixcated on certain thoughts and situations. Am really struggling with this today!

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 01-Oct-12 17:06:32

The UC rules for the self-employed are going to make things more complex. The R4 Moneybox programme did a feature on benefits including UC a couple of weeks ago and you might be able to hear it on a listen again function. The full details aren't yet out but I think they did discuss self-employment.

Southwestwhippet Mon 01-Oct-12 17:16:49

thank you, actually I heard that feature and that was what alerted me to some of the changes and got me reading. But the more I read, the more I panic!

The monthly acounting just doesn't make sense to me because for so many small businesses, monthly fluctuation is quite significant. My insurance costs alone are huge and I like to pay them annually to make the credit saving. Under this system, I think I would lose Universal Credit that month as my business would appear to have not made profit over that period. I fear I would then be classed as unemployed/available for work and have to attend meetings and do voluntary work despite the fact that my overal annual income and hours work put me well out of the category. AGHR, this is very scarey.

BurningBridges Mon 01-Oct-12 17:22:40

I'm self employed, married, might be about to become the sole earner (DH facing redundancy) which would then take us into UC territory, and I feel at a total loss as well. And I might end up with some days salaried and some days ad hoc. I cannot imagine how it is going to work. Sorry all I can do is commiserate - just thinking out loud, I wonder if there is anything about it on - they often have little gems of wisdom there?

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 17:28:36

We have high unemployment and they are discouraging people from creating their own jobs? Wtf? OP could be employing other people in a few years.

I suppose it's typical Tories, you can only become self employed if a affluent family can support you.

Peachy Mon 01-Oct-12 17:32:00

OK Dh is part time self employed so I have looked into this with some depth (as I am a Carer).

Now, how many hours you work is not and will not be absed on how many hours you work- DH works about 70 a week- but how many you make NMW for.

If this is under certain limits you become eligible for workfare to make it up, you can claim childcare for that but will be expected to find that yourself. As your child is 2 I am sorry to say that may well include you. We are not sure if DH will fall into it, probably even though he is in fact working and studying all day- it's a harsh rule. We don;t know how it will affects students, he is one as well, but I have read all the white papers etc and found nothing.

If you work FT and your income is under an amount around £17.5k you can be required to look for betetr paid work and forced to prove you are doing it. Not quite sure how they would sanction that though with workfare so must be benefits cut as punishment.

There are exclusions- such as being a carer, but not many.

UC will be p[aid monthly, and will cover the main benefits barring DLA and Carer's Allowance. It's capped at £26k PA unless you have someone in your household claiming DLA at MR or above. We do but don;t reach the cap anyway.

What I would say is that UC is something that we will go over to gradually, over many eyars- when somenoe's details change that's when you are likely to go onto it (and anyone getting tax credits in any form will). Where I am is supposed to be a triala rea and as yet we have heard nothing at all.

Peachy Mon 01-Oct-12 17:33:14

Lesley quite.

There is talk of a 'holiday' during which you don;t have to reach the profit threshold but there is zero leeway after that and if you have a hard month you're stuffed basically: you take the hard work and risk with no safety net.

wheresmespecs Mon 01-Oct-12 17:39:44

Lesleypumpshaft (love your name) - those are exactly my thoughts.

OP, I can't offer any specific help - I am self employed and have a close relative who is a riding instructor, so I do understand the problem of variable hours and fluctuating income, and it really is just the job, you can't do it any other way!

I wanted to say, have you tried money saving expert forums? That would be my first port of call - lots of knowledgeable help. You won't be the only one in this situation.

It is ridiculous that people TRYING to earn a living are being given such an unwieldy system to wrestle with. No wonder you are stressed.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 17:40:35

Idk, but being self employed is like that anyway. I might have a month when I earn a fair amount, but I never spend it all try not to spend anything. I am tighter than a gnat's chuff because I never know what the next few weeks might bring Peachy.

I had a good few busy weeks, burned the candle at both ends and came down with a stinking cold. I'm now nursing a chest infection. sad

What happens after you've had a bad month then? Do you re-submit your details the following month, or it it a black mark against you so to speak?

On the good side, never parting with a panny means that you can piss pounds like the wind every now and then. wink

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 17:40:45

Or a penny even.

Southwestwhippet Mon 01-Oct-12 17:41:49

And this assessed monthly? So if my income works out at net 10 per hour for 8 months, then in my insurance paying month drops to net 5 I will suddenly have to do workfair? Despite clearly having been well over nmw for the previous months? And done the hours to achieve it? Makes no sense to me. [Cries]

Southwestwhippet Mon 01-Oct-12 17:45:23

Also if I dare to take my daughter on holiday for a week, despite having saved and budgeted to cover this, I'll then have to sacrifice my business doing compulsory workfare for the forseeable future as I won't hit the monthly target that month.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 17:50:56

"Also if I dare to take my daughter on holiday for a week, despite having saved and budgeted to cover this, I'll then have to sacrifice my business doing compulsory workfare for the forseeable future as I won't hit the monthly target that month. "

I hope this is not the case Southwestwhippet. Sorry to hear about your predicament. I wonder if there are any groups lobbying or petitions about this. It seems grossly unfair that a single parent who is trying to start up a business should be penalised.

On the flip side, I have been a member of other forums where people advised other members to go self employed, so the bare minimum, say they were working 40 hours p/w and claim tax credits as a blag. I suppose we've got people like that to thank for all of this. As usual, the few bad apples spoil it for everyone else.

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