Self-employed support extended to September – and more people could be eligible

Rishi Sunak will announce an extension of support for self-employed people in his Budget speech.

The Chancellor is set to make cash grants available to more than 600,000 people

And while details are still to be confirmed, the Treasury say “many” people who became self-employed in 2019-20 will be eligible for support for the first time.

A fourth grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be available to claim from April, worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits up to £7,500.

The Treasury said that hundreds of thousands more people will be eligible for the grants this time, as tax return data for 2019/20 is now available.

Mr Sunak faced criticism that newly self-employed people were unable to benefit from the scheme previously.

The Chancellor is expected to outline further details of the proposals on Wednesday, alongside plans for a fifth grant.

It comes alongside the announcement that the furlough scheme will be extended to September.

But employers will be asked to contribute to workers’ salaries from July.

The Treasury say many people who became self-employed last year will qualify

Around 4.7 million people were furloughed at the end of January, where the Government pays 80% of an employee’s wages.

But employers will be asked to start contributing 10% to the scheme in July, and 20% in August and September as the economy reopens after lockdown.

Boris Johnson ’s lockdown roadmap aims to lift all remaining restrictions on daily life from June 21 if the virus continues to be suppressed.

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Bridget Phillipson, Labour ’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “These changes to support schemes could have been made months ago. Businesses and workers have been pleading with the Chancellor to give them certainty – but they have had to wait because he said it wouldn’t be appropriate until the Budget. Announcing it the night before shows the focus is on Rishi Sunak getting his moment in the sun rather than protecting jobs and livelihoods.

“We need a Budget that secures Britain’s recovery and rebuilds the economic foundations the Conservatives weakened before the crisis. That means a plan to support jobs and businesses, protect family finances and set Britain on the path to a better, more secure future.”

The Chancellor was criticised for not including the newly self-employed in earlier grants

But the CBI’s chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said extending the scheme will keep “millions more in work and give businesses the chance to catch their breath as we carefully exit lockdown”.

“The furlough scheme has been a stand-out success throughout the crisis. It’s common-sense to keep the scheme going while business resilience remains fragile for some months yet,” she said.

“As we make progress into the summer, it’s right that businesses start contributing a little more as revenues start to recover. Meanwhile it’s great to see more support for the newly self-employed, who have missed out over the last year.”

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “It’s welcome that the furlough scheme that has seen British workers through this crisis will remain in place until restrictions are lifted, playing a critical bridging role between the lockdown and the recovery.

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“The phased tapering off over the summer will also avoid a risky cliff-edge.

“But the peak of unemployment is ahead rather than behind us. We also need to see wider economic stimulus to drive the recovery this autumn, and support for the millions of people who have been without work for long periods during this crisis.”



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