By Claire West
A tapas restaurant, tattoo parlour, party entertainer and removals company are among 4,560 businesses which have been launched thanks to a Government scheme to help entrepreneurial jobseekers, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has revealed.
The businesses have started up thanks to the New Enterprise Allowance, which partners jobseekers with a mentor to draw up a business plan then gives them financial support to help them through the early months and the number is growing all the time. Hundreds of new businesses are now starting up every week under the scheme.
Thousands more would-be entrepreneurs have started working with a mentor on their plans and could be among the next to set up their business.
Claimants to start trading so far include:
•Robert Warrior, 45, who set up Finos tapas restaurant in Southport after losing his job managing a group of hotels in 2011. The restaurant employs 22 people.
•Star Wars fanatic Neil Matthews, 36, who has turned his hobby in to his dream job after a year out of work by setting up a business repairing replica props from movies.
•Dominic Cox, 40, who is looking to take on his son as an apprentice after setting up a business as an electrician after 18 months out of work.
•Former Pontins blue coat Matthew Brown, 32, who has returned to his first love and set up his own entertainment business after losing his job in 2011. He has already secured contracts across the West Midlands including for the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
•Hayley Thomas, 29, whose play centre, on-site café and pre-school nursery in Haverfordwest employ 17 people. She set them up after losing her job as an NVQ assessor last May.
Now the Government is considering whether the rules can be changed to give jobseekers access to a mentor after three months on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), rather than having to wait six months.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:
"I’m delighted that hundreds of businesses are setting up every week thanks to our New Enterprise Allowance. Even in tough economic times there are opportunities out there and we’re ready to back those who have an idea that can work and the can-do attitude to make it a success.
"With 4,560 businesses up and running we’re already helping to unleash a new wave of entrepreneurs. I want to make the support available sooner so we can help even more people realise their dreams and become their own boss. Now we’ll look at how we can make this happen."
Other businesses set up so far include mobile app development, beauty therapy, dog grooming, cake making, gardening, architecture and physiotherapy.
Currently claimants have to be on JSA for six months before getting help to develop their business plan. When they have produced a viable plan they can access an allowance of £65-a-week for another six months and have access to a loan of up to £1,000 to help with start-up costs.
The Government is now exploring whether to offer claimants given access to mentor support after three months on JSA.
Robert Warrior, who set up Finos Tapas restaurant in Southport thanks to NEA, said: "My mentor was invaluable, he was always offering me great ideas and advice, and the financial assistance was obviously very helpful in setting up the restaurants.
"I'm also pleased that I've been able to create so many jobs as a result of opening Finos, I plan to offer further opportunities via work experience and apprenticeships."