Self-employed can claim some benefit

23 March 2001

Self-employed can claim some benefit

Foot-and-mouth restrictions have cut a wide swathe through

rural incomes with a ripple effect from farmers outwards.

Self-employed people will be the most affected and

Verite Reily Collins has been finding out what help is

available from the Benefits Agency

WITH an election looming, farmers and other rural workers who swallow their pride to "sign on", thereby swelling unemployment statistics, could encourage the government to look for ways of helping the rural business community.

As a self-employed person you may think you dont qualify for benefit, but this is not strictly true. Signing on wont produce a golden handshake, but you will find most Benefit Agency officials want to help you claim your entitlement.

Their officials are keen to help farmers. I found, phoning agencies from the NFU onwards, it was the Benefits Office who reacted positively. "My sister is married to a farmer. We know what they are suffering," said Neil.

His first suggestion was if you sign on, you wont have to pay National Insurance of £2/week plus Class 4 contributions. NI is vital to ensure your state pension, but if you are registered as unemployed you still get the entitlement.

Neil said that, generally speaking, the self-employed arent entitled to Job Seekers Allowance (what used to be the Dole), but may well be entitled to Income Support, which covers a multitude of items, including help with mortgage interest, council tax, rent and prescription charges. The amount you receive depends on factors such as savings.

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