Rishi Sunak issued ‘stark warning’ self-employed people need more help in the Budget

Martin Lewis gives update on SEISS grant for self-employed

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Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is responsible for setting out Britain’s economic path through the pandemic, and will lay out his plans in his annual Budget next week. However, one group of particular importance when it comes to economic measures is the self-employed. These individuals have been particularly hard hit by the impact of the pandemic, as businesses have been forced to shutter.

Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today revealed a sharp drop in the number of people self-employed in the UK.

The number of self-employed people in Britain has dropped to 4,374,000 – a drop of 653,000 compared to the same time last year.

The figures created concern for some experts, who observed after a decade of continuous growth, the number of self-employed in the UK has now sunk to levels which have not been seen since 2013.

One organisation has stated these figures act as a “stark warning” to Mr Sunak that the self-employed, particularly freelancers, will need more support in the Budget.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), has called on the Chancellor to lay out clear support in his economic statement next week. 

Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE, commented on the matter.

He 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 business.

“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.

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“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.”

Many self-employed people have been keen to know what the next level of support will be to help them throughout the pandemic.

The SEISS third grant covered the months from November 2020 to January 2021, paid out in a single instalment which covered a percentage of trading profits.

With the fourth grant of SEISS confirmed, it is expected these details will be released in the Chancellor’s Budget next week.

However, there are also others who are keen for support to be shown by Mr Sunak next week. 

Mr Cribb concluded: “We urge the Chancellor to use the Budget to plug the gaps in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

“This will finally get support to sole directors of limited companies, newly self-employed people (many of whom will know have filed their first full tax returns), as well as the other groups who have now been excluded for almost a year.”

Those who have not been able to access Government support, known commonly as the Excluded, have frequently called upon the Chancellor to take action.

This group of individuals has asserted the Government has now had sufficient time to ensure more people can receive support while avoiding instances of fraud taking place. 

It is hoped eligibility criteria will be changed in order for more people to be able to apply for Government support.

However, it is not yet clear whether additional support schemes or measures will be introduced for the future, past April 2021. 

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