Self-employed guidance issued as SEISS take-up problems arise – how to keep 'above water'

SEISS claims have helped many self-employed workers stay afloat during the pandemic and final applications will soon be processed for the Autumn months. Despite this, however, not all claimants have benefited evenly.

Overall, those who said the pandemic had changed their overall income, lost an estimated 15 percent.

The primary factor for the drop in income was not because of the closure of physical premises, of which only 14 percent of respondents attributed the primary reason, but because demand for products and services dropped (35 percent).

As a result of the drop in income, women also suffered a greater mental toll than men. Over half (53 percent) of women surveyed said their mental wellbeing had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, compared to 38 percent of men.

The primary reason for this is due to concerns about providing for themselves and their families (28 percent overall). Lack of human interaction with colleagues, friends and family (23 percent) and concern over the future of the business (14 percent) were the other primary factors.

Only one in ten (12 percent) said that their drop in mental wellbeing had nothing to do with work.

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Fortunately, better days may be on the horizon as the UK economy opens up.

Despite the difficult realities, the research showed optimism is now the prevailing state of mind for the self-employed (29 percent).

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On top of this, female respondents (30 percent) were slightly more optimistic than their male counterparts (29 percent), despite being more heavily impacted. Additionally, enthusiasm for being self-employed and running micro-businesses has not dimmed, with half (50 percent) of respondents agreeing that they love doing what they do so much that they don’t see it as work at all.

Cameron Shearer, the co-founder and CEO of Superscript, commented on the results: “There’s rightly been a lot of focus on mental health in the workplace during the pandemic. So we wanted to explore the human impact on the self-employed and micro-businesses, who make up 95 percent of registered businesses in the UK, and don’t have access to resources like HR departments for support.

“It’s been a tough time for the self-employed as they have tried to keep their business, which they have worked so hard to build, above water despite demand for products and services dropping off a cliff.

“Self-employed women have been disproportionately impacted, which illustrates that society still has a way to go to encourage female entrepreneurship.

“Nevertheless, now that the fog is clearing, it is inspiring to see the resilience and adaptability that the self-employed have shown, and they will benefit from that in the long-run. We are seeing more demand for business insurance as confidence and optimism returns and more people look to set up on their own.

“There will be a lot of opportunities in the next 12 months for small businesses to grow and thrive, and I expect this to be a very fruitful period as the economy returns even stronger than before.”

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Mr Shearer concluded by providing guidance on how self-employed workers can keep their businesses safe for the months ahead.

Check if you are eligible for financial support, like SEISS

“Applications for the fifth Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) open at the end of this month. You don’t have to pay it back, and previous SEISS grants have provided a lifeline for many self-employed people.”

Pivot your business

“The big advantage of being self-employed or a small business is that you are far more nimble. Many small businesses have taken advantage of the pandemic to adapt their business model and re-focus on providing services or products for the ‘new normal’. If your client base has been impacted by lockdown, consider looking at new revenue streams where you can apply your skills. Going digital could also save you money. Think about what you could make more efficient by doing it online.”

Leave tax for later

“The self-employed have to pay tax through the self-assessment system. The two key dates in the calendar are January (when you have to pay your bill and file your tax return) and July (for those who need to make a payment on account i.e. pay in advance). HMRC have extended both of these deadlines until January 2022. They have also set up a helpline for the self-employed who are worried about tax.”

Draw on local support

“The small business community is wonderful, vibrant and supportive. Research local events and resources in your area that can support your business – whether it’s in the form of financial support from local institutions, or networking with like-minded local businesses and entrepreneurs!”

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Reassure customers that your business is Covid secure

“Letting your customers know you’re COVID secure will be critical with restrictions now lifting. Many are still nervous about going in-store or on-premise, so providing reassurance that you’ve taken all the necessary steps will help increase confidence in your business and ensure you don’t lose any additional income from nervous customers.”



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