Supporting Restart participants into self-employment

Research report

Buzzeo J, Dave A |   | Institute for Employment Studies  | Mar 2024

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Through a series of focus groups with employment advisers working within Restart providers across the country, and in-depth interviews with participants, this research sought to explore the current support offer for those pursing self-employment. It focused on identifying challenges in delivering this support as well as examples of effective practice, and improvements that could be made to enhance delivery.

The ReAct research identified several gaps and improvements that could be made to the self-employment support offer within the Restart scheme.

For providers this included:

  • Better communication from Jobcentre Plus to help providers evidence job outcomes and claim payment for this work.
  • Greater formal training and peer support for employment advisors working within Primes so that they can better compliment the work of specialist subcontractors.
  • Some consideration of whether additional financial support could be made available for participants pursuing self-employment at a national level. Providers recognised a current gap in public funding available for people looking to start new business, which could pose a barrier to those on low incomes looking to invest in and grow their business and get it on a sustainable footing.
  • More creative approaches to in-work support for participants, including facilitating peer support groups to combat isolation.

Participants meanwhile wanted:

  • Greater ongoing support with marketing, looking at how they could grow their business further and make it sustainable in the long term.
  • Greater responsiveness from Jobcentre Plus work coaches around the timing and tailoring of self-employment support. Some knew from the beginning of their claim they wanted to pursue self-employment but had to wait until they were eligible for the Restart scheme in order to receive specific support.
  • Others felt that better training was needed for work coaches to support claimants that are interested in self-employment, as referral and support options they initially discussed with some participants were not suited to these needs.
  • A few participants also wanted the support available through the Restart scheme to be less generic and more tailored to better fit their individual learning style and needs. For example, one participant who is dyslexic wanted additional support in writing their business plan, while another participant who received one-to-one support remotely noted that they would have preferred to see their adviser face to face as this is how they feel they best absorb information.