Test trading is a government initiative to help entrepreneurs come off benefits and become self employed. The leap into self employment is a bold move for any disabled person on benefits, as recent Government policies on benefits have made some disabled people nervous about the future. In recent years people who have come off their benefits to go on Government schemes have found it difficult to get back on the same benefits they were used to. This uncertainty has led many disabled people to be distrusting of Government schemes aimed to help people back into employment.
Test Trading is a scheme which assists with this problem. By joining the Test Trading scheme an entrepreneur can effectively trade for 6 months and still receive their benefits. At the end of the 6 months the person can decide whether to stop trading and remain on their benefits or to carry on trading and come off their benefits. There are some advantages and disadvantages we will discuss later.
To join the scheme budding entrepreneurs will need to contact their DEA Disability Employment Adviser to find out if Test Trading is available in their area. If the scheme is available then your DEA should signpost you to your nearest provider, who will enrol you on the scheme.
There are 3 stages to Test Trading
This will be a meeting between you and a business adviser to discuss your business plans. The adviser will give you support in writing your business plan and will assess what other support you may need.
At this stage you will be developing your business plan, looking for grants and applying for Access to Work.
This is where you will start your business and have your full benefits for 26 weeks. There will be continual support from your business adviser on a weekly basis, via face to face meetings or via the telephone.
Hopefully at the end of the 26 weeks your business will be stable enough to support you and you will come off your benefits.
Before you finish Test Trading you will need to work with your DEA to see if you are eligible for Working Tax Credits, which could offer you further financial support. Test Trading is just one route a disabled person can take when wishing to start up in business. Permitted Work from the Job Centre, Working Tax Credits and starting a Limited Company are other ways to gain financial support whilst starting up in business.