Rishi Sunak SEISS extension: ‘Woefully inadequate’ – a third of self-employed to miss out

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Rishi Sunak extended SEISS today as he released details on how the government will be responding to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. While the various extensions he provided were broadly welcomed, he was also criticised for a crucial failing within the self-employment scheme.

Mr Sunak announced a new Jobs Support Scheme will be replacing furlough plans and SEISS will be extended in line with this.

As he confirmed: “Mr. Speaker, throughout this crisis we have sought parity between employees, and the self-employed, providing more than 13 billion pounds of support to over 2.6 million self-employed, small businesses.

“So I’m extending the existing self-employed grants on similar terms and conditions as the new jobs support scheme.”

This announcement was welcomed but as the Chancellor took questions it became clear that issues still remain.

Alison Thewliss, an SNP MP, questioned Mr Sunak on “forgotten” members of the public who have reportedly been left out of the self-employed grant scheme: “But there’s nothing here Mr Speaker, nothing whatsoever, for those that have been excluded from existing support schemes,

“The freelancers, the forgotten limited [companies] the PAYE, the new starters, the women in maternity and all of those who have not one penny piece from this government for six months.

“He cannot say he doesn’t know that this is a problem, as he still refuses to meet with them.

““How dare he see that these three million people should be left high and dry with nothing.

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“Will he place proper conditions to prevent unscrupulous employers exploiting the new schemes?”

In his response, Rishi defended the actions taken thus far but acknowledged that action on larger unscrupulous employers needs addressing.

However, other organisations were even less impressed with the chancellor’s announcement.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), responded to the SEISS extension news.

They commended the necessary extension but detailed that the plans are “woefully inadequate” in their current form.

As Andy Chamberlain, a Director of Policy at IPSE, commented: “The support for the self-employed announced today is woefully inadequate.

“Although it is right for the Chancellor to extend SEISS, the support announced today still excludes one in three self-employed people.

“Limited company freelancers and the newly self-employed almost entirely missed out on support in the last lockdown and have faced bleak months of financial devastation.

“Now they face a dark winter ahead unless the government does more for them.

“Based on the drastic financial hit self-employed people took in the last lockdown, the new 20 percent cap on support is likely to be nowhere near enough.

“As well as plugging the gaping gaps in support, government must follow the situation closely and be ready to raise the amount of support SEISS offers if needed.

“The self-employed sector has already seen a record drop in the first half of 2020 because of the unnecessarily large gaps in government support.

“The self-employed are vital for the economy and will be essential for economic recovery, but to play their part, they must get the support they need now. Government must do better for them.”

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