A Sheffield enterprise programme which has helped hundreds of people start their own businesses has seen a surge in enquiries since changes in eligibility were introduced.
Sheffield Enterprise Agency (SENTA) has seen four-times more enquiries into its New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) programme, which provides support for people who are unemployed and claiming Jobseekers Allowance but want to start their own business.
Individuals are now eligible for support from the first day of claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance, whereas previously they had to wait 13 weeks, and SENTA is now seeing more people than ever wanting to receive support through the NEA scheme to make the move to setting up their own business.
The scheme allows individuals to claim a weekly, tax-free allowance for the first six months of running their business and gives them access to a range of practical support. This includes one to one support from a professional business advisor and attendance on a business planning workshop to help them get their business off the ground.
Since the programme launched in 2011, SENTA has seen an 89 per cent survival rate in business start-ups after the first six months, with a variety of sectors being supported, including engineering and retail.
The current national failure rate of start-up businesses in the UK is between 70 and 80 per cent, so the NEA scheme is bucking this trend.
Paul Tinsley, business support manager at SENTA, said:
We are thrilled with the success of the NEA programme and it’s great to see that more than 340 people have benefitted from the services and support on offer through the scheme.
The increase in enquiries since the eligibility changes were put into place shows that people who are out of work, for whatever reason, are eager to take on the opportunity to start their own business.
Being able to now access both the financial and practical business support from day one of claiming Job Seekers Allowance is of huge benefit to individuals and gives them the incentive to take the step into self-employment.
The survival rate of businesses coming through the scheme is also fantastic to see, especially as this is so strongly going against the national trend.
By supporting people in getting their business off the ground, we can contribute to the growth of the Sheffield City Region economy which will, in turn, create more employment opportunities in our region. We look forward to seeing more new business success stories come through the NEA programme in the future.
SENTA, in partnership with Sheffield City Council, supports new business start-ups and existing business growth in the region by providing one-to-one advice and access to workshops.
For more information about Sheffield Enterprise Agency and the NEA programme, visit www.senta.co.uk or call 0800 043 5522.