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Starting freelancing/benefits situation

KGreen
KGreen Member Posts: 5 Listener
Hello all.
I'm here to get insights and advice about starting work. I'm on ESA and PIP for mental health reasons and hate being dependent on a government which hates me, and could decide to stop helping vulnerable people at any moment. I'm on a course right now to learn some skills which I hope to be able to use to earn a living but obviously mental health can go down as well as up. If I start trying to work and then can't I'm worried that my benefits will all be taken away and I'll be homeless. Also, it's self employment and I can't be sure I'll instantly start making enough to pay my rent and all bills, so there's kind of no way to even do it. 
Cheers for any insights!
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Comments

  • JustPete
    JustPete Community Volunteer Adviser Posts: 49 Connected
    Hi @KGreen I'm glad you have found this website and felt able to post about your situation.  I can assure you we have people in this community who will be able to advise you better than me on the exact situation regarding your Benefits.  However, I can tell you about my situation, how work affected me, and where it left me.

    I went to Uni and got a couple of Degrees, but it became clear to me that I would not be able to cope with Paid Employment - physically & financially (benefits) reasons. I took up a number of volunteer positions.......however this is not the same as paid employment.  I agree with your personal sentiments.

    I did take up a paid position for a one-year fixed term.  I lost all my benefits and it cost me more to work than i earned.  However, it was a job I could not turn down.  It took me a while to get my benefits back, but I did.

    I returned to volunteering work and I am working more, harder, and with enormous enjoyment and responsibility now.  I am also studying again in order to challenge myself.

    I think only you can decide whether to take paid employment.  You should not have to settle for volunteering just because you have health issues.  However, you can definitely make 'voluntary work' a  very good substitute - I feel the work I do now is critical and important to the various organisations i do it for.

    You raise such an important point that affects so many people.......disabled and non-disabled.  Most people WANT to work and be self sufficient.  Unfortunately, the system is not set-up in our favour.

    I wish you well in your chosen direction.
    I am a Scope Volunteer.   I have knowledge about life! Additionally, but not limited to: living with a disability, employing personal assistants (requiring 24x7 care), education (having reached PhD level), sexuality (being gay) managing relationships having a disability (tricky), technology and assistive technology (being a geek), sport & leisure (being a Paralympian and on various committees whose purpose is to maximise inclusion at all levels), mental health (both through personal experience and supporting others), Arsenal Football Club (a necessary part of life).  If I can't help, I will endeavour to find somebody who can.

    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you'll ever know." - Winnie The Pooh
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 10,988 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @KGreen - & welcome to the community. PIP isn't affected whether you work or not. With ESA you can continue claiming so long as you work less than 16 hours & don't earn more than £143 per week. You would also need to inform the DWP if you intend starting to work. There's a form online to notify them with. Please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employment-and-support-allowance-permitted-work-form/permitted-work-factsheet
    With ESA, if the work you do contradicts why you claimed, you could be reassessed. With PIP, so long as the work you do doesn't contradict why you're claiming PIP, then there should be no change.
    I hope your course goes wel,l & you can test the waters with being self employed. If you do take up being self employed start keeping accounts straight away as these will be needed periodically for your ESA.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,650 Disability Gamechanger
    You say you're doing a course at the moment, is this full time? If so have you reported the changes to DWP? Although you can be a student and continue to claim means tested benefits, if there's a maintenance loan available to you, then it affects means tested benefits, regardless of whether you take that loan or not.
  • KGreen
    KGreen Member Posts: 5 Listener
    @poppy123456 it's 1 hour a day via zoom so I can't imagine I need to tell the dwp! I don't tell them that I spend 10 minutes a day on duolingo....

  • KGreen
    KGreen Member Posts: 5 Listener
    @JustPete thanks so much for sharing your experience. That sounds really tough. I'd be worried about the time it would take to get the benefits back. The whole process of applying and having to justify my existence makes me feel suicidal - because I can't justify my existence. And I have no way of paying rent etc in the mean time. So it's a massive life and death risk to take.
    I do want to volunteer again in the future. It's not a substitute for paid work as it won't support me but in my ideal life I'll have time and money to give. And yes I agree many (most) volunteers do work that is more valuable to society than the work done by some high earners. 
    Thanks for the well wishes, same to you!
  • KGreen
    KGreen Member Posts: 5 Listener
    @chiarieds thanks for your comment :) And thanks for the link which I'm reading now. I'm laughing at the advice to ask the local council about changes to housing benefit and council tax reduction if doing any work - I have zero faith that they will know, given my past experiences.. Do you happen to know whether ESA gets topped up after what you earn over £143? Or if you earn more than £143 a week is that considered sufficient to live on and everything is stopped? That is the crux of my fear - if I can't instantly make enough to cover my rent and bills. 

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,650 Disability Gamechanger
    KGreen said:
    @poppy123456 it's 1 hour a day via zoom so I can't imagine I need to tell the dwp! I don't tell them that I spend 10 minutes a day on duolingo....


    I never said you had to tell them! I simply asked if it was full time and if it was you need to ring DWP.
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 10,988 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 4
    Hi @KGreen - Poppy knows way more than I about benefits, & was just checking, as you mentioned a course, & rightly so; something I freely admit I hadn't thought about. What language are you studying? I have used duolingo for German; I do think it's an excellent programme, & one I should get back to!
    Here's a link about ESA & work; any week if your income was more than £143, your ESA would stop: https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/working-while-you-claim
    I don't know what you're considering with self employment, but you might find some of the following useful:
    Some free info on the Federation of Small Businesses' website: https://www.fsb.org.uk/skills-hub.html
    A lot of good advice on this website too, e.g. about Self Assessment tax returns (but have a look around the rest of the site too): https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2021/09/self-assessment-tax-return-guide-for-self-employed/
    When you need to register as a sole trader: https://www.gov.uk/set-up-sole-trade
  • KGreen
    KGreen Member Posts: 5 Listener
    @chiarieds Thanks :)
    Yeah - I was just taken aback by the question about telling the dwp about a course - learning stuff is basically one of my hobbies. I wouldn't tell them I'm taking a distance course about how weather works, and at 46 I know that full time courses are something they need to know about!
    So I'm allowed to earn 143 a week then benefits are stopped, so I'll be 50 worse off a week if earning the minimum - that really shows that the govt want vulnerable people to die, either of anxiety or rotting on the streets. Wonderful. It's disappointing but not at all surprising.
    Thanks for these further links, I will certainly have a look at them if I decide to risk it (I probably won't).
    I'm learning Mandarin at the moment but have learned a bit of German, French and spanish on there too. It's a wonderful platform!
    Have a good evening :D
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,650 Disability Gamechanger
    I've advised thousands of people here on the community in the 4 years i've been here and it would be wrong if i didn't cover all aspects when advising others.

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