Taste of success: Monica’s journey to self-employment

Monica has always loved cooking traditional, flavoursome Caribbean food. She dreamed of one day turning this passion into a business and with the help of Universal Credit her dream has become a reality.

As a child, Monica, now 51, would spend her Saturday afternoons making salt fish fritters with her Mum. She dreamed of one day turning her love of family cooking into a business.

In June 2016, Monica began claiming Universal Credit and with the support of her work coach started to develop her business skills.

As recommended by her work coach Beverley, Monica attended a ‘How to set up a market stall’ training class, which kick-started her journey to self-employment.

Through the New Enterprise Allowance, Monica also received business mentoring and coaching to help nurture her business mind.

“My mentor has given me confidence, while guiding me through the journey of developing a business.”

Today, Monica’s Caribbean Kitchen is a popular and growing market stall in Nottingham. Her delicious fried fish, mutton curry, jerk chicken and Saturday Soup special ‘chicken and pumpkin’, have kept customers coming back.

She has also hosted a pop-up restaurant evening, catered for a vegan event and a ‘Women in Business’ event, with plans to do more vegan events in 2018.

Universal Credit has given Monica the flexibility to grow her business steadily as she can have varied hours and earnings each month. As her clientele grows, Monica plans to work more days on the market.

“This has been a journey for me where I have become more confident about getting my businesses up and running, thanks to the encouragement I’ve had from God, my family, friends and UC work coach.  The future looks bright – I’m looking into getting more equipment and working on outside catering, summer fetes and other events.”

For more information on how you could kick-start your journey to self-employment with Universal credit, like Monica did, visit: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit


6 ways to help you manage your money

The Money Advice Service’s online Money Manager is an interactive tool that offers personalised advice to help you make the most of your money while you’re on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is there to support people who are out of work, unable to work, or on a low income.

It replaces six different benefits and combines them into one monthly payment. This includes Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, so you may be eligible for financial support if you need help paying for housing or childcare.

 Here are Money Advice Service’s 6 top tips to managing your money

income and outgoings

Keep track of how much money you have coming in and how much you need to spend on essentials. 

You can use the Online Money Manager to help.

essential items

Take a look at your spending and create two lists: one for things you really need, and another for things you could live without. 

monthly payment

Universal Credit is paid monthly so, if you’re used to working out your spending weekly or fortnightly, you’ll need to start managing your money across the whole month.

essential outgoings

These include rent or mortgage, Council Tax, utility bills, and repayments on loans, credit cards or store cards. 

If there’s a risk you’ll fall behind with payments, don’t bury your head in the sand. 

Lenders, councils and landlords can work with you to manage repayments if you tell them as soon as there’s a problem. 

better bills

With essential bills, like your gas, electricity or phone, you could save up to £200 a year if you switch to a better deal. 

Even making a single call to your current provider to ask about cheaper tariffs could make you better off.


If you’re tempted to borrow, think carefully about how you will keep up with repayments. 

Stay away from high-cost borrowing like payday or doorstep lenders. 

If you must borrow, credit unions can offer cheaper loans and will work with you to set affordable repayments.

More information

For personalised support, visit the Money Manager 

money advice service

Top 5 tips for balancing work and family life

We all want the best for our kids and to give them the best start in life.

It’s good for children to see their mum or dad going out to work, but it can be tough for parents that are having to balance those family commitments.  

Here are 5 ways you can get help moving back into the work place:

get personal support to find work

So you’ve decided you want get a job but are worried about how to fit it in with your family commitments?

Your work coach at your local Jobcentre will give you personalised help to find work that fits in with your circumstances and childcare responsibilities.

That can include support with job search, interview techniques and training, or helping you to overcome other barriers that might make finding a job more difficult.

Take on part time work

Taking on temporary or part-time work often leads to a more permanent position.

Working just a few hours a week helps you gain vital experience, gives you confidence and boosts your CV.

Universal Credit, which is in every jobcentre and is rolling out to families across country, is more flexible and makes it easier for jobseekers to take on a few hours’ work or a temporary job.

Access on-going support to progress your career

Your Jobcentre Plus work coach can continue to offer you personalised support after you have moved into work under Universal Credit.

We are also looking at ways in which they can give you even more practical help to increase your earnings and fulfil your potential.

This might range from discussions about career progression and supporting you to have conversations with your employer, to signposting to relevant training and helping with job searches.

claim the majority of your childcare back

All children should have the best start in life and that’s why we’re helping working families with their childcare costs.

Mums and dads who are in low-paid work and claiming Universal Credit can also claim up to 85% of their eligible childcare costs back.

For families with two children that could be worth up to £13,000 a year.

Find out more

Good quality childcare is vital for working families and that’s why if you are in work and are eligible, and you have a 3 or 4-year-old, the free childcare you are entitled to will double to 30 hours from autumn 2017.

From early next year, the Government is going even further with its childcare offer for working parents.

In 2018, Tax-Free Childcare will help support working parents with their childcare costs through a new online account.

For every 80p you or someone else pays in, the Government will top it up by 20p.

Parents will be able to receive up to £2,000 per year for each child up to the age of 12.

Find out about help paying for childcare

Your questions answered about Universal Credit

With Universal Credit now available in every Jobcentre Plus across the country, we asked these people what they would like to know about the new benefit.

Here are the questions and answers:

What is Universal Credit and how can it benefit me?

Universal Credit supports you if you are on a low income or out of work. It replaces six existing benefits and tax credits with a single monthly payment.

Universal Credit makes sure you’ll always be better off in work than on benefits.

It’s flexible, which means it’s easier for you to take up part-time or temporary work without worrying about being worse off.

It tops up your income, making sure you have the support you need while you look for more hours or a better paid job.

You’ll have support from a work coach right from the start of your claim helping you find a job, progress in work, and be better off.


How will it be paid?

Universal Credit is paid monthly into your bank account.

You will receive your payment on the same date each month, or the previous working day if that date falls on a weekend or bank holiday.

If you’re not used to managing a monthly budget, your work coach can help you get support that’s right for you.

Before you make your claim you can also use the online Personal Planner to find out what you need to do to prepare for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit, so if you currently get help with your housing costs this will be included in your monthly payment.

You will be responsible for paying your rent to your landlord yourself.

If you have been used to managing your money fortnightly, or having your rent paid directly to your landlord, you may feel you could do with some extra help with this – talk to your work coach about the support available.


What is the difference between Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance?


One of the biggest differences is the flexibility of Universal Credit.

We’ve removed the ‘16 hour rule’ so there is no longer a limit on the number of hours you can work before your Universal Credit payments stop.

This makes it much easier to take the part-time or temporary jobs that you might not have considered under Jobseeker’s Allowance, opening up more opportunities.

If your job ends or your earnings go down, you don’t need to worry – it’s easy to start your payments again while you look for other work.

If you take temporary work, you don’t have to start a new claim between jobs.

Your payments will adjust automatically with your change in income, making sure you’re always better off in work.

With Universal Credit you get support from a work coach right from the start of your claim.

This can include things like getting help with drafting a CV, applying for jobs online, or finding training courses.

Even better, your work coach will continue to work with you once you get a job to help you to increase your hours, progress in work, and earn more.


For more information, visit www.gov.uk/openingupwork