Universal Credit for the Self-Employed: unworkable, unfair and short-sighted

Posted in: Families and Money, Family Finance

Universal Credit for the Self-Employed: unworkable, unfair and short-sighted



One in five of the self-employed (many mothers are self-employed around the school day) currently rely on tax credits to top up their self employed earnings.    The article linked above explains that UCSE will strip the buffer down to a very thin line. People will be expected to work longer and make their businesses viable.   (How will this affect mothers working around the school day,  for example as childminders or part time in nursery or in retail?)

At the Gateway interview,  if you’re not considered to be  ‘gainfully’  self-employed (not earning enough)   then you’ll have to look for and be available for other work. 

Your minimum assumed earnings will be £957 per month 52 weeks of the year,   35 hours per week at minimum wage.   This is the ‘minimum income floor’  (which could be adjusted if you have care responsibilities but this is not very clear at present – for example you may not wish to use too much childcare just yet,  so what ‘age’  is a child deemed to need his/her mother’s time? ).   Interestingly the ‘minimum income floor’ is only for the self-employed and is referred to as a new ‘policy innovation’  (have they factored in care responsibilities?). 

Minimum assumed earnings will be factored into your claim whether you’ve actually earned that or not.   Universal Credit will not bridge that gap.   This is to ensure you make your business grow and that you make sure it can support you without the need for benefits.    It does not appear to take into account income fluctuations, for example seasonal.   We wonder what might happen if you are a single mother working on term-time only contracts?  And if you’re in a couple will low earnings during school holidays affect your household entitlement to Universal Credit?

They do not want Universal Credit to subsidise deliberate or unintentional ‘under-employment’ (what about individuals who have a good reason for working part time in order to meet family responsibilities?).    It is not at all clear how UC affects couples with children . Do please write to us if you have more information ([email protected]). 

UCSE is likely to hit women hardest as they are more likely to be low-earning part-time self-employed, trying to earn extra money around other commitments to the young and the elderly. 

Under UCSE earnings will have to be reported online on monthly basis.


MAHM needs your help and expertise to unpick Universal Credit and its impact on mothers

Please contact MAHM if you can tell us anything about how Universal Credit and Universal Credit for the Self-Employed will affect a self-employed mother, whether single or with a working partner.  Will she have to work a certain number of self-employed hours?   How will her care responsibilities to her children be factored in?   (The same could incidentally be said of home-dads.)      How old will the children be before they’re expected to go to childcare?    A lot of women themselves work in childcare  – often part time –  will they be forced to work longer hours?   Will a mother’s failure to work full-time (especially in school holidays)  affect the family’s entitlement to Universal Credit?   Will the family be affected by what the system considers to be deliberate ‘under-employment’?    How long can a mother stay at home and be a full-time mother to her children?   Write to [email protected]



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