Universal Credit: Performers and Creative Workers

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 11th July 2022.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee

If she will make an assessment of the impact of the universal credit minimum income floor on performers and creative workers with unpredictable and fluctuating earnings.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We recognise that earnings can fluctuate for all self-employed people, including performers and creative workers, and that it takes time to establish a business. That is why we offer a 12-month start-up period, giving claimants time and support to grow their earnings and reach their agreed minimum income floor before it is applied.

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee

I understand the objective of the minimum income floor, to get into sustainable employment, but perhaps the Minister does not appreciate that for people in the performing arts and creative sectors it is not just a short-term period for which they have unpredictable and fluctuating incomes. By the nature of theatre, music, performance and so on, shows are cancelled at short notice. In fact, established performers with viable careers still get hit disproportionately by the minimum income floor. Would it not be sensible to collect the data on a sector-by-sector basis, so that we do not have a one-size-fits-all approach but can tailor it to achieve the objective he wants, which is to reach the need of each specific sector?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Universal credit supports self-employed people and the Department ensures fairness by treating all sectors equally. I have already talked about the 12-month start-up period, which is designed to strike the right balance between supporting claimants to make a success of their business and protecting public funds.