Windsome lands on her feet with ‘New Enterprise’ allowance and a start-up business

Winsome Duncan and her book on becoming employable

Winsome Duncan and her book on becoming employable - Credit: Dept Work & Pensions

Most keen jobseekers who have become their own bosses with a government weekly Enterprise allowance are still in business a year after launching their start-ups, a research poll has found.

The New Enterprise Allowance claims 80 per cent success rate, according to a poll carried out for the Department of Work & Pensions, with half the new ventures expanding their customer base or increasing their turnover since starting up.

“The Enterprise Allowance saved my life,” one keen participant Winsome Duncan explains. “It gave me a living and helped put food on other people’s tables as well as my own. It’s a life-changing programme.”

The 38-year-old joined the scheme in 2013 with an idea to set up a venture helping people gain skills and become more employable.

She came up with a business plan to hold employability workshops and got a £1,000 loan from Jobcentre Plus.

Winsome also wrote a book, 100 Ways to Save Money—an Employment Guide, offering advice to young people and ex-offenders on how to get on the career ladder.

“You have to be dedicated and committed to make it work,” she adds.

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Her new business, M PLOY ME, now has three people working for it part-time in the Pempeople pop-up shop in Peckham, but is now looking for its own premises.

It is an example of how the New Enterprise Allowance helps meet the first challenging year of trading.

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: “We are determined to help jobseekers with entrepreneurial ambitions turn their ideas into successful ventures to create new jobs, boost productivity and contribute to London’s long-term economic growth.”

A weekly allowance, with mentoring and financial support, is paid through Jobcentre Plus to jobseekers, lone parents and people on sickness benefits who have an idea to set up their own business. It has helped 77,000 start-ups so far, including retail, car repair, construction and professional services.

Many applicants had even been on disability benefits when they joined the scheme.