Self-employed worker representatives have urged the Chancellor to extend the financial support provided to struggling self-employed workers into and beyond May.
Prospect union has warned the Government that ending the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) in May ‘will see one of the biggest betrayals yet’ handed to millions of self-employed workers.
The Telegraph reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering ending the scheme early, before the economy has fully reopened, leaving millions of self-employed workers with no support.
Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy said: “The Treasury has treated the self-employed as an afterthought throughout this crisis, and if this story is correct then this Budget will see one of the biggest betrayals yet.
“The self-employed can power the economic recovery into the medium and long-term but only if they are supported properly now. Ending support in the Spring would cause a fresh crisis for tens of thousands of workers who are already struggling.
“This crisis is not yet over. Instead of putting the brakes on the recovery, Rishi Sunak should be giving it rocket boosters by extending the support scheme and closing the gaps so that all these workers have the freedom and confidence they need to boost the economy through the rest of the year.”
IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) have also shared their concerns for the self-employed workforce after responding to ONS statistics released yesterday. The new data highlighted another sharp fall in self-employed numbers, with IPSE saying it is a “stark warning” that many freelancers still need support from the Government. IPSE has also urged the Chancellor to offer more support to workers excluded from previous schemes in the upcoming Budget.
ONS data has revealed the number of self-employed in the UK has fallen to 4,374,000 – a drop of 653,000 from the same time last year. After over a decade of continuous growth, this takes the total number in the self-employed sector back to levels not seen since 2013.
Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE, said: “Ahead of the Budget, this sharp fall in the number of self-employed people should be a stark warning to the Chancellor and the government that there are still an unacceptable number of freelancers who are excluded from support – and that this exclusion is costing them their businesses.
“There was continuous growth in the self-employed sector for over a decade before the pandemic, which boosted both innovation in the economy and also the UK’s overall employment rate. If the government wants to stave off drastic rises in unemployment, it must offer comprehensive support to all self-employed groups and also rethink the seriously damaging changes to IR35 tax rules.
“We urge the Chancellor to use the Budget to plug the gaps in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and finally get support to sole directors of limited companies, newly self-employed people (many of whom will now have filed their first full tax returns), as well as the other groups who have now been excluded for almost a year.”
Details of the fourth SEISS payment being given to self-employed workers financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, will be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak at the Budget scheduled for 3 March.
The fourth round of payments will cover February, March and April. Self-employed workers, which includes tens of thousands of taxi drivers, were able to claim their third Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant from 30 November and had until 29 January 2021 to make the claim.
Support for millions of workers through the third SEISS grant covered November to January and was calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
Struggling self-employed workers have had one eye on a confirmed fourth SEISS grant covering February 2021 to April 2021 since the last grant closed. According to reports from The Telegraph workers can expect a similar package valued at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.