Self-employed people running small land-based businesses face losing out when Universal Credit begins to replace the Tax Credits system, including housing benefit, from October onwards.
Those on low income are going to be subject to the ‘minimum income floor’, where they will be deemed to be earning the equivalent of the minimum wage - for working 35 hours a week - of £938.82 a month If someone earns less than this then they will have to make up the shortfall themselves. Writing in The Land magazine, Cathy Ashley, outlined that ‘A beekeeper losing 60% of his bees due to poor weather claimed Tax Credits, but under Universal Credit this safety will not exist. Those in need will be the very people penalised for earning too little.’
Meantime, with only 23 of 601 Jobcentres located in rural areas, the problems all claimants face in accessing what will be a wholly internet-based application system (only in exceptional circumstances will face-to-face applications be allowed) for Universal Credit is worrying many rural organisations.
According to Sioned Hughes, policy director at Community Housing Cymru, a majority of their tenants are not online and the figure rises even further in rural Powys, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Adding to the problems that claimants are facing is that the radical changes are being introduced when funding cuts have reduced the number of charitable centres, which help claimants apply for benefits.
There is a free Universal Credit and the Self Employed briefing paper available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or send a SAE to 10 Magdalene Close, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5TQ