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How about ‘bread funds’?

BREAD FUNDS - "Broodfonds" in Dutch - are "gift circles" of 20 to 50 self-employed people who put aside money each month, agreeing to give a basic income to anyone in their group who becomes unable to work for health reasons. They are thus an alternative to income protection insurance, which currrently has a very low take-up rate (about 8 per cent) and typically has lots of exclusions. for example for a wide range of pre-existing medical conditions, family history of illness, HIV etc.

Unlike employees, self-employed people do not receive statutory sick pay, so if they become too ill to work, some of them end up turning to food banks. "Bread Funds" have become popular in the Netherlands as an alternative based on mutual aid: there are currently 95 groups with over 3000 members.

Is it feasible to introduce "Bread Funds" to the UK? Alpha Communication is a workers' co-op that is carrying out market research to help find out, as part of a project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Trust. It needs more people to take part in a focus group at Esmee Fairbairn's offices in Kings Place (behind Kings Cross station, in the same building as the Guardian's offices) on the afternoon of Wednesday 23 July.

Any self-employed person in or near London who is interested in taking part in the focus group should contact Fen Frances or David Parker at Alpha Communication, info@alpha.coop (0191 211 1938). They will pay a nominal fee for attendance (£40 is rumoured). There is also a focus group in Newcastle, where Alpha are based, and they have enough people for this.

Last modified: 08 Jul 2014 - © 2014 contributors
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