A freelance artist is urging unemployed people in Hampshire to take advantage of a new scheme to help them start new businesses.
Simon Rudd, 33, was an unemployed computer programmer when he had the idea to start his own business.
His first venture, a computer repair business, did not work out.
But his second, simonrudd.info, a freelance writing and art company, which he set up with the help of the Labour Government five years ago, is going from strength to strength.
He said: 'It has taken a long time to make any sort of progress, it's taken me a long time to get where I am.
'It's not a fast turnaround, it takes a lot of hard work and determination, and for me being freelance the work can just drop away at any given time - but it is a good thing to do.'
The coalition government has announced its plans to expand the New Enterprise Allowance to reach 40,000 people.
It will make 2,000 available to those who have been unemployed for six months or more.
They will get their usual benefits for the first three months, and a reduced amount for the next three months, so they can support themselves while they launch their businesses. There are also start-up loans of 1,000 to help with expenses.
'I'd say go for it,' Mr Rudd said.
'If it's something you enjoy and are passionate about, go for it.
'Don't expect instant results, but definitely look into it because it is better than being unemployed.'
One of those backing the scheme is Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton, who set up the clothing label from a market stall in Herefordshire.
He said: 'I was on the original Enterprise Allowance Scheme in the 80s - it helped me enormously.
'I had been unemployed for about nine weeks when I started on the scheme. It's about time they brought it back in.'
Mark Prisk, business and enterprise minister, said: 'In the current economic climate, it has never been more important to promote an enterprise culture in the UK.
'It is vital that businesses have the information, advice, and mentoring they need to grow and expand.
'The best people to advise small businesses are those who have already started and run successful companies, so it is particularly important that this new framework focuses on providing access to business mentors.'
Go to dwp.gov.uk