Who Benefits? The Difficulties for Women in Making the Transition from Unemployment to Self-employment

Suggesting policy reforms to support self-employed women

This document identifies key issues that discourage women depending on benefits in the UK from graduating to self-employment.

For a significant number of benefit-dependent women, self-employment is attractive as well as necessary. The rigid and complex benefit system is one of the major barriers to setting up a business. In addition, major programs such as New Deal and Work Based Learning for Adults are failing to attract women into self-employment. Key issues deterring benefit-dependent women from considering self-employment include:

  • Low levels of initial earnings;
  • Inability to cover child care costs;
  • Need for flexible working hours;
  • Tax credit calculations;
  • Difficulties with delays in housing rent support;
  • Inability of the benefit system to cope with fluctuating income levels;
  • Losing mortgage support and losing secondary benefits.

The government needs to review these issues and increase support to those making the transition from benefits to self-employment. Agencies that provide support to low-income and unemployed women can also help address barriers caused by the current benefit system. Finally, mentoring can provide invaluable support to women transitioning from benefits to self-employment.

About this Publication

By Marlow, S., Westall, A. & Watson, E.