SEISS was extended by Rishi Sunak recently as it became clear coronavirus would continue to be an issue into 2021. Along with a furlough extension, the Chancellor detailed SEISS payments would be continued into January at 80 percent of income.
This move was welcomed by Derek Cribb, the CEO of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), who had the following to say: “It is absolutely right for the government to adapt its approach and extend SEISS at the same level as the furlough scheme until January.
“We hope the government will do the right thing and extend it in-line with employee support until March.
“We also urge the government to finally address the gaping holes in SEISS, extending support to the desperately struggling newly self-employed, limited company directors and other groups it has so far left behind.
“The government has provided admirably robust support for many employees and self-employed people, but at every turn it continues to ignore large groups of the self-employed who have been financially devastated in the last six months.
As the ONS confirmed: “Between April to June 2020 and July to September 2020, the number of people who changed from reporting themselves as self-employed to an employee was 277,000, the highest level since records began in 2005.
“Of these, the number who had changed jobs had not increased from normal levels.
“Consequently, some of the fall in self-employment comes from an increase in the number of people who have changed to classifying themselves as an employee, even though they have not changed jobs.”
Derek argued these figures are (at least partially) directly the result of lacking government support, as he explained: “The continuing drop in the number of self-employed in the UK shows that the glaring gaps in support are leading to long-term, avoidable decline in the sector.
“This is deeply concerning not only for the self-employed themselves, but also for the UK’s prospects in the coming recession.
“After the 2008 financial crisis, it was rising self-employed numbers that kept unemployment comparatively low – as uncertain employers looked for more flexible expertise instead of permanent employees.
“Now, this does not appear to be happening and the self-employed sector is in precipitous decline.
“Some self-employed are finding their way into full-time roles, but many others are joining the record flow into unemployment.
“Government must work quickly to stem this flow by urgently getting support to the left-behind self-employed groups.
“Extending support would be a cost now, yes, but it would be a temporary cost during the pandemic, to hold back an even worse unemployment problem later.”
To be eligible for SEISS in its current form, self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:
- have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
- declare that they intend to continue to trade and either are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus or
- were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus
The government has confirmed grants will be provided up until at least April 2021 and further details on this will be announced in “due course”.
The online service for the next set of grants will become available from November 30.