Business start-up cash helps hundreds create their own jobs
More than 600 people on the dole in Devon and Cornwall have become entrepreneurs under a Government scheme to get jobless people off benefits, figures show.
A gourmet chocolate company, internet games designer and dog grooming firm are among around more than 26,000 businesses launched across the country with help from the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA).
The most recent statistics show around 2,000 new businesses are being set up every month.
The scheme offers an allowance of £65 a week and access to a loan of as much as £1,000 to help with start-up costs. The total package of support is worth up to £2,274 to each participant who starts their own business.
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Since the project was rolled out nationally in November 2011, 100 jobless people in Cornwall and 240 in Devon have started their own enterprise. Among those to set up a start-up is Steven Garnsworthy, from Crediton, Devon. He spent five years on incapacity benefit because of a lifelong injury to his leg that caused pain and mobility problems.
In 2011, Mr Garnsworthy had his leg amputated, but has since set up a handyman business called Need A Hand. Being self-employed enables him to schedule work around medical and physiotherapy appointments.
He said: "I decided to offer a local handyman service to elderly people after I kept hearing stories of big firms charging extortionate rates for simple jobs. The NEA helped me get the business off the ground and fund my tools and equipment."
Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "The New Enterprise Allowance is a great example of the aspiration nation in action: Government offering support to people with ideas, as well as the 'can-do' attitude to turn them into successful enterprises.
"Every month, we are successfully supporting around 2,000 jobseekers to get off benefits and start their own business so that they can fulfil their aspiration to look after themselves and their families.
"In Devon and Cornwall, 640 jobseekers have set up their own business, and I hope many more will follow"
The coalition Government estimates that the NEA will support the creation of up to 40,000 new businesses by the end of 2013.
The previous Labour Government introduced two self-employment support schemes for the unemployed – a self-employment option in the New Deal and the Six Month Offer – but both ended.