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There is ‘no excuse’ to not support newly self-employed workers in forthcoming SEISS launching soon

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Image credit: HM Treasury (Flickr CC2.0)

There is “no excuse” for government to not support the newly qualified taxi drivers and other self-employed workers in the latest SEISS grant process due to launch soon.

Ahead of the fourth round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), IPSE (Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) are the latest group to urge the Government to look again at support for excluded groups – particularly the newly self-employed.

IPSE has said that since most newly self-employed people will have filed their first full annual tax return by the time of the next grant, there is “no excuse” for government not to include them in the support. The Government had originally said this group could not be included because of the risk of fraud with people who had not filed a full annual tax return.

Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE, said: “After numerous policy proposals from us and other organisations, government has still not got support to the 1.5 million excluded self-employed. These people have now been almost a year without financial aid. Many are now in spiralling debt and self-employed applications for Universal Credit have risen by over 300 per cent.

“Ahead of the fourth round of SEISS, we urge the government to look again at ours and the other policy proposals to get support to these groups. Last year, government said it could not support the newly self-employed because of the risk of fraud with people who had not filed a full year’s tax return. Most of those newly self-employed who have clung on will now have filed their first full annual tax return. There should therefore be no excuse not to support this group at least.”

It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 self-employed workers who have not qualified for any SEISS grants, because they are newly qualified and hold no tax returns with HMRC. Those included in that figure were newly qualified cabbies who took the plunge to start something new and follow their passion.

Those effected are individuals who set up business after 6 April 2019 and therefore do not have a tax return from the required 3 year period spanning between April 2016 and April 2019.

Abdul, a recently qualified London taxi driver from Harlesden, is one such taxi driver that has fallen through the support gaps. He says: “My dream was to be a London Taxi Driver. I was on the knowledge for four years and got my badge in January 2020. After a few weeks renting a taxi, I purchased a new electric taxi for £57,000, taking out a finance agreement to make this possible.

“I did not receive any government grant through the self-employed furlough scheme because I am new to the trade and had not previously filed a tax return. Because of the lack of any real income, we have moved in with my in-laws with our two young children. We have limited space and during lockdown in particular, this caused a lot of stress for the whole family.

“Although I got a three-month payment holiday from the finance company, I am currently still unable to make full payments on my cab and have been informed that making reduced payments will put me into arrears and impact my credit rating, which is a huge concern.

“I am currently working seven days a week to try and earn enough to support my family. But with earnings as they are, I am struggling to survive.”

Struggling self-employed workers will not receive official details of the eagerly awaited fourth SEISS grant before the Chancellor’s Budget on 3 March according to one respected financial expert.

Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert and a TV finance presenter, announced the exclusive news via social media. In the video, Lewis described the move to delay releasing further information as ‘unnecessarily cruel’ for people who are in dire need of financial support in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Lewis there will not be an announcement on who is eligible for the grant, nor how much the grant will be worth, until the day of the Chancellor’s next Budget on 3 March. The delay means workers must wait over a month after the grant period starts to learn of new details surrounding the fourth SEISS payment.

Lewis said via social media: “I’ve just had Treasury confirmation that no official announcement on Self Employ grant 4 will come until 3 Mar Budget, cruelly a month after grant period starts.”

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