Self-employed ‘excluded yet again’ from government support – SEISS extensions called for

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Rishi Sunak has been forced to take action this week as coronavirus continues to be a problem, especially for certain areas in the north of England. As the prospect of local lockdowns emerged, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was forced to take action.

Yesterday, Rishi Sunak laid out plans to increase Job Support Scheme (JSS) pay-outs for certain companies who have been forced to shut down over the winter months as part of either local or national coronavirus restrictions.

Eligible businesses will have up to two thirds of each employee’s salary paid for by the government up to £2,100 a month.

Mr Sunak introduced the extended support with the following comments: “Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed.

“I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.

“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

Under the scheme, employers will only need to cover their employees National Insurance and pension contributions and they’ll be able to receive the support from November 1.

The extension was welcomed by many but some organisations have highlighted that in their view, self-employed people have been left out of crucial government plans.

Andy Chamberlain, the Director of Policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) responded to the government’s announcement: “The new support for employees and businesses in local lockdowns is the right move, but it is dismaying to see the self-employed excluded yet again from the government’s thinking.

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“Local lockdowns will affect many self-employed people just as much as employees, but as it stands they have much, much less support available to them.

“If a self-employed hairdresser, plumber or contractor is caught in a local lockdown and unable to work, they are entitled to just 20 percent of their usual earnings.

“And there are over a million limited company directors and newly self-employed who are not even entitled to that.

“Government must not leave the self-employed to fall through the cracks of the ever-growing patchwork of local lockdowns across the UK.

“It must extend the amount and the parameters of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to offer targeted support for the self-employed that matches these new measures.”

SEISS was recently extended but the level of support is set to drop as the UK moves into 2021.

Under the extension, two more grants will be paid out and will last for six months, up to April 2021.

The grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments, each covering three month periods.

The grants will cover 20 percent of average monthly trading profits which will be capped at £1,875 in total.

To be eligible for the extension payments, self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) must:

  • currently be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
  • declare that they are currently actively trading and intend to continue to trade
  • declare that they are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus in the qualifying period (the qualifying period for the grant extension is between November 1 and the date of claim)

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