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Self-Employed

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what steps his Department is taking to support formerly self-employed persons without work; (261497)

(2) if he will adjust the criteria for claiming contribution-based jobseeker's allowance to enable formerly self-employed persons without work to claim the allowance.

The Government are doing everything they can to help those who become unemployed back into work as quickly as possible. We are investing an extra £1.3 billion to ensure that through Jobcentre Plus we can continue to provide personal help and advice to everyone who needs it.

Income-based jobseeker's allowance is available to self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria. The Department administers a wide range of benefits and allowances that are available to people on low incomes. Self-employed people who meet the qualifying criteria may be entitled to housing benefit, council tax benefit and help with NHS charges. Those working and on a low income may be entitled to working tax credit whilst those with children may be entitled to child tax credit.

Class 2 national insurance contributions provide self-employed people with protection against ill-health, bereavement and old age by providing entitlement to employment and support allowance, bereavement benefits and basic state pension and the rate of contributions they pay reflects this. There are no plans to extend this entitlement to contributory jobseeker's allowance.