We recognise that earnings can fluctuate for all self-employed people, including performers and creative workers, and that it takes time to establish a business. That is why we offer a 12-month start-up period, giving claimants time and support to grow their earnings and reach their agreed minimum income floor before it is applied.
I understand the objective of the minimum income floor, to get into sustainable employment, but perhaps the Minister does not appreciate that for people in the performing arts and creative sectors it is not just a short-term period for which they have unpredictable and fluctuating incomes. By the nature of theatre, music, performance and so on, shows are cancelled at short notice. In fact, established performers with viable careers still get hit disproportionately by the minimum income floor. Would it not be sensible to collect the data on a sector-by-sector basis, so that we do not have a one-size-fits-all approach but can tailor it to achieve the objective he wants, which is to reach the need of each specific sector?
Universal credit supports self-employed people and the Department ensures fairness by treating all sectors equally. I have already talked about the 12-month start-up period, which is designed to strike the right balance between supporting claimants to make a success of their business and protecting public funds.