Mutual First Aid – Leeds to trial income-protection club for the self-employed
The number of full-time self-employed people hit a record high last summer. However, for many freelance or self-employed people, being too sick or injured to work for more than a month might be absolutely disastrous – unfinished jobs you can’t get paid for, selling equipment to pay off bills, the added stress of applying for benefits or insurance claims which may never come, just when you need to focus on rest and recovery.
But what if groups of freelancers could provide cover for each other when they need it most?
Mutual First Aid is an idea developed from a popular Dutch solution, known as ‘Broodfonds’ or ‘BreadFunds’. A Broodfond is a club of between 25 and 50 self-employed people, each paying a monthly contribution and getting to know each other a bit. Then, if they cannot work for longer than a month, they get just enough cash to cover basic needs and the members also provide practical support for each other.
The number of Broodfonds in the Netherlands has grown very rapidly in the last few years, and there are now more than 24,000 people in 540 groups, so it clearly works!
West-Yorkshire-based ‘Platform 6 Development Co-op’ is looking for volunteers to join a pilot group in Leeds, to see if this idea can work over here and provide some much needed practical security for freelancers.
“A lot of work has been done with lawyers, banks and HMRC to create a model that works in the UK – and now we just have to give it a go!” says Cath Muller of Platform 6. “We’re calling it Mutual First Aid. I certainly want to be a member of such a group, so it makes sense to do it where I live.”
People joining Leeds Mutual First Aid pay a one-off joining fee plus monthly contributions. Levels of participation are based on the money you’d need to get by if you can’t work. It’s a pilot, so these amounts may change as the group gets some practical experience:
- Joining fee: £100
- Level A: monthly contribution £25, expected monthly gift: £500
- Level B: monthly contribution £55, expected monthly gift: £1,250
- Level C: monthly contribution £85, expected monthly gift: £2,000
Membership is open to people who have been self-employed for at least a year. You can request support after 30 days of being unable to work, and it can last over a year. You are eligible for support as soon as you join, but need to have been a member or to remain a member for two years in order to cover the support you receive.
Mutual First Aid groups are based on trust and people helping each other. They do not employ loss adjusters to disallow claims, nor doctors to check if people are genuinely unable to work. In setting up Leeds Mutual First Aid, we are building a network of trust amongst self-employed people.
Cath says: “We’re particularly looking for 3-5 people to be committee members and help run the group, but we need a minimum of 25 people altogether to get off the ground.”
There will be a public meeting Thursday 30 January 2020, 6-7.30pm at the old Bridge Street Church behind Eastgate Job Centre – sign up here. In the meantime, find more information at mutualfirstaid.org.uk or if you’re interested in being involved or want to be kept informed, please contact: email@example.com
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