Over-50s to get help to launch own businesses

Employment minister hopes enterprise allowances will encourage the jobless to set up small firms

Thousands of jobseekers are to be offered help to start businesses, as ministers try to help over-50s worried they will never find work again. Chris Grayling, the employment minister, wants to "unleash a wave of new entrepreneurs" with enterprise allowances, which mirrors a scheme in the 1980s that helped the artist Tracey Emin, Creation Records boss Alan McGee and Julian Dunkerton, founder of the Superdry fashion label.

The minister, who is tipped for cabinet promotion, also slapped down claims from the Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries that David Cameron and George Osborne were "two posh boys who don't know the price of milk". Mr Grayling said the Prime Minister would not "be blown off track" by calls for a lurch to the right.

The latest unemployment figures will be published on Wednesday. Ministers are hoping for a repeat of last month's fall to counter claims the Government is not acting to tackle rising joblessness. "The Conservative Party has been accused in the past – unfairly, in my view – of not being concerned about unemployment," Mr Grayling said. "It is right at the top of the agenda of what we do."

The enterprise allowance began last autumn and has resulted in hundreds of new businesses being started, many of them small businesses such as joiners, gardeners, fitness instructors, dog groomers or bricklayers. The scheme was intended to run for two years to create 40,000 firms, but ministers hope it will be extended to cope with demand.

"What we're trying to do is unleash a wave of new entrepreneurs," Mr Grayling said. "In those parts of the country where the unemployment challenge is biggest, you tend to find that the private sector is smaller. The only way we are going to address this is by getting new entrepreneurs in business."

Ministers are planning to allow claimants to pitch their business idea after only three months on jobseeker's allowance instead of waiting for six months. Successful applicants are offered a £1,000 loan to buy equipment, such as tools or a computer, and receive a weekly allowance of £65 for the first 13 weeks and £33 for a further 13 weeks. Each start-up is assigned a mentor from the local business community, who can support them in the difficult first month.

Mr Grayling hopes the scheme will help older workers who struggle to find work if they are made redundant. The number of over-50s claiming jobseeker's allowance has doubled since 2008, to almost 260,000. Almost 25,000 people aged 50 to 64 have been claiming it for more than two years, compared with 7,415 in March 2009.

New research from the pollsters Britain Thinks reveals a sharp rise in concern about the impact of unemployment on young people. Of those surveyed, 71 per cent are "worried that there's a generation of young people who may never be able to get jobs because of the recession", up from 63 per cent in December 2010.

Last month it emerged unemployment had fallen by 35,000 to 2.65 million. Mr Grayling admitted the jobs market remains "challenging". But he dismissed calls from some on the right for a change in approach after losing 405 council seats in the recent local elections, insisting that economic growth would revive the party's electoral fortunes.

"I genuinely think that if we are diverted from our course on economic and financial reform, on driving down the deficit, then we will see unemployment higher rather than lower," he said.

"Neil Kinnock used to hammer us in local elections, but it made no difference to the general election result when it came."

Case study: 'I was given a mentor who helped me prepare my business plan'

Lindsay Whitaker, 31, physiotherapist, Rotherham, South Yorkshire

"I was working for Plymouth Albion Rugby Club as lead physio, but was made redundant this time last year. I mentioned to [the jobcentre] that I was thinking about starting up my own practice. I was given a business mentor and he helped me prepare my business plan. I opened my sports injury rehabilitation clinic at the beginning of February. From beginning to end it was a pretty quick turn-around. It was quite exciting, but also a bit of relief to be doing things again. Spending six months not being able to work was quite frustrating. Going from such a physical job to being unemployed meant I got a bit restless, but now it's all starting to take off."

Joe Gammie

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links