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Three million people ignored by government’s plan to save the economy

Written by: Emma Lunn
Self-employed workers who have been left out of previous coronavirus support schemes will continue to lose out under the Winter Economy Plan.

Yesterday saw chancellor Rishi Sunak unveil a new jobs support scheme, further help for businesses, and another grant for the self-employed.

But the plans ignore many freelancers and small businesses who have not received any government support since the pandemic began, despite lockdown impacting their businesses and income.

Robert Salter, director at accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg, says: “It is good to see that chancellor has announced the continuation of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

“However, whilst any support that can be provided to individuals at this unprecedented time should be welcomed, as the ongoing support appears to be being provided on ‘broadly the same terms’ as the initial scheme, it probably means that the 3 million people who were ‘left behind’ by the government’s original arrangements will continue to lose out on a going forward basis.”

Groups left out of previous SEISS schemes include:

  • The owners of small owner-managed businesses who pay themselves via dividends rather than salary.
  • Those with jobs which involve moving from freelance contract to freelance contract on a short-term, basis. This includes many people who work in TV, theatre and other creative industries.
  • Those who have been working as full-time landlords.
  • Those who began being self-employed in the 2019/20 tax year.
  • Freelancers earning more than £50,000 a year.

Jacqueline Harthill, self-employed owner of The Happy Parents’ Club in Bristol, says: “The recently self-employed have once again come away from another major government statement empty-handed.

“It’s mind-boggling how millions of self-employed people have been left to fend for themselves. Once you’ve exhausted your savings, which many self-employed already have, the next step is defaulting on the mortgage, followed by homelessness and, ultimately, a much poorer society. The millions of people who have fallen through all the cracks in the support packages to date will be suffering financially, physically and emotionally for many, many years to come.”

David Pratt, managing director of RIBA-chartered practice Vision Architects, says: “The chancellor has once again failed to make any material provision for small businesses that have no rateable value. Rishi Sunak and his advisers appear to think that all small businesses operate out of a leased commercial premises. This Dickensian mindset is doing nothing to help the millions of small businesses that rent office space on a more casual basis or work from home.”

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