Self-employed workers that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic have just days left to apply for the second government SEISS grant.
The deadline for claiming the second instalment of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant is 19 October. Those eligible will receive a government grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, up to £6,570.
Anyone whose self-employed business has been adversely affected by coronavirus since 14 July (with trading profits of no more than £50,000) is eligible for the scheme; payments are made within six working days.
With the UK facing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, self-employed workers are questioning the level of government support that will be available to them over the coming months.
On 24 September, the government announced an extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. However, the level of support is set to be significantly lower this time around. A taxable grant for self-employed people affected by the pandemic will cover three months' worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January 2021. It will be worth just 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
An additional second grant will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April but the government has yet to announce the level of support this grant will provide.
Business groups are concerned that UK freelancers are facing a very bleak winter. "It is dismaying to see the self-employed excluded yet again from the government's thinking," said Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).
"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% 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."
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that the number of self-employed people in the UK in Q3 2020 has fallen by 240,000 compared to the same period last year. IPSE has said that the record fall, taking the number of self-employed back to 2015 levels, shows the "devastating impact of the gaps in support".
Written by Rachel Miller.