Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What does an SRG stand for?
SRG stands for Self-Reliant Group.
2. What do you mean by Self-Reliant?
WEvolution’s SRGs have the strong belief that they have the power to determine their own future. They are keen to create their own assets and develop businesses that allow them to change their communities, rather than depending on external grants to make a difference.
3. What does an SRG Do?
There are four key components to an SRG:
- Social: Being a part of an SRG means getting to share your journey with others. Many of those involved in an SRG develop lasting bonds with one another.
- Learning: SRGs develop their skills and knowledge through trainings and workshops that allow them to mature as a group and individuals.
- Saving: Every week each SRG group member contributes to the group savings. Groups then determine how they use this savings, either as start-up funds or for internal group borrowing.
- Business: While it is not a requirement, many groups realise their power and potential to economically improve their lives through starting a small business.
4. Can I join an SRG?
Look up our Find an SRG page to see if there’s an SRG in your community and approach them in the first instance. If for some reason you are not able to join an existing SRG, you are always able to join our SRG Development Programme and start your own SRG.
5. Will being a part of an SRG affect my benefits?
See questions 13 to 20 for this.
6. How do I start an SRG?
We ask anyone interested in starting an SRG to find a friend who is also willing to make the commitment. Once you have selected a partner WEvolution will work alongside you to develop a strong foundation for your SRG. See our page on Start an SRG for more information.
7. How are SRGs different from other women’s groups/community groups?
The difference lies in the very name: self-reliant. SRGs self-generate their own capital – through their savings – and do not rely on others to make change happen; they take it upon themselves to determine their own future and that of their families and communities.
8. Are SRGS just for women?
SRGs are not just for women. If you are an organisation that works with men, then we would be very interested in hearing from you.
9. Where do I get more information?
Please get in touch with us using the Contact Us page
10. How much do the SRGs save each week?
The average weekly savings per person is £1. The amount that each group chooses to save, however, is the decision solely of the SRG and not WEvolution.
11. What do the SRGs do with the money?
The money is used as working capital to buy small pieces of equipment or material for the business. In many SRGs, the money is also used to giving small loans to members in times of need.
12. How much can I earn as a member of an SRG who claims Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), before it affects my benefits?
This depends on individual circumstances. However all earnings must be declared and taken into consideration and work cannot be over 16 hours per week. £5 per week of earnings can be kept by an income based JSA claimant/SRG member unless they are also in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and are a lone parent. With regard to such claimants £20 per week of earnings can be kept.
13. How much can I earn as a member of an SRG who claims Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), before it affects my benefits?
ESA claimants can earn up to £94.65 per week. Normally this would last for 52 weeks if it is classed as “higher level permitted work” or indeed longer than this if it is supported by an appropriate organisation. This is known as “supported permitted work”. The thing to watch out for here is that earning up to £94.65 per week through permitted work could have an impact on Housing and Council Tax benefits. Again, for ESA claimants it is possible to earn up to £20 per week (known as lower level permitted work) which can be carried out indefinitely.
14. Is a person on benefits permitted to receive gift vouchers from an SRG?
Receipt of these should be reported by the individual to the Job Centre but under income based benefit rules these can be received although they could also require to be counted as notional income. ‘Notional income’ means income that is available to a customer but not received. This counting as ‘notional income’ is perhaps only an issue if these vouchers are received by the individual concerned on a regular basis.
15. Can SRG members join a Board of their company as a member or director?
Yes they can, assuming the SRG (which is also the Board of Directors) members are only meeting up once a week for a couple of hours or so. Again the normal conditions apply i.e. the relevant Jobcentre requires to be informed.
16. How many hours a week can a person volunteer?
At the moment for JSA claimants there is no limit on how many hours they can volunteer but it must be reported to the Jobcentre and they must still be able to meet all conditions of entitlement and participate in any mandatory activities, which take priority over their volunteering. For ESA claimants there is also no limit but, depending on the outcome of their Work Capability Assessment, they may be asked to participate in mandatory activities or the Work Programme.
17. Supposing an individual was allowed to volunteer for up to 20 hours a week in an SRG, can she consider work in an SRG as a ‘work placement’ and continue to receive her benefits?
Only if this has been agreed with your Jobcentre Advisor. You must seek the advice of your Jobcentre Advisor. He or she might consider it if it is viewed as being beneficial to your ability to obtain employment further down the line. If agreed to it is likely to be short term only: up to 4 weeks.
18. I work in an SRG but want to become self-employed. If I apply to the New Enterprise Allowance scheme (NEA) and am successful, how does the figure that I earn in the SRG affect the taper off of benefits, or do the taper off and the Allowance match?
The NEA (not to be confused with the 1980’s initiative) is an 8 week scheme which is delivered by Glasgow City Council/Jobs & Business Glasgow, where a business plan is developed. Once the individual concerned is ready to start trading as a self-employed person (this can be at any time after them starting on the scheme), their claim to benefit ends and the Allowance can be paid. This is paid as £65 per week for the first 13 weeks and then £33pw for weeks 14-26. Please note: individuals have to apply for this in the Jobcentre, it is not automatically paid.
19. What if I don’t know what kind of business I’d like to start. Is there help for me?
You might find that meeting other people regularly and talking about what you all like to do and what your community needs may inspire you. You might find that a skill or interest you have can inspire others in your group or that a skill or interest someone else has can inspire you. WEvolution can work with your group to suggest money making activities which over time can develop into a business.
20. I’ve always dreamed of starting my own business, but I wouldn’t know where to start. Don’t you need a business plan because I don’t know how to write one?
We support you as you take the first steps to run your SRG, and we are available to ensure that you have all the help and advice you need. We can introduce you to an experienced business mentor who will help you throughout your journey. A business plan is a structured explanation of your business ideas and we can help with it.