As the collective voice for the self-employed, Community welcomed the announcement of the government’s self-employed income support scheme. But as the details of the scheme emerged, it became clear that there was the potential for too many self-employed workers to fall through the cracks and be left without the vital help they need.
We’ve identified five areas where we’re calling on the government to make improvements:
1. Getting help to the self-employed sooner – June is too long to wait
The systems to deliver the self-employed income support scheme need to be in place as early as possible. Thousands of the self-employed are already struggling to make ends meet.
UPDATE 4/5/20: we were pleased the government listened and brought forward the schedule for the scheme so people can apply from 13 May – see our reaction here. Now we want government to make sure payments are made as quickly as possible.
2. Providing support for the recently self-employed
Those who have become self-employed in the past 12 months need financial support too. The government should give self-employed people 4 weeks from 6th April to fill in their 2019-2020 tax return so they can qualify for the self-employed income support scheme.
3. Not discrimiante against women who have been on maternity leave
Ensure women who have been on maternity leave are not discriminated against in financial support, as well as those who have taken parental leave. This could be done by averaging their incomes while excluding the maternity and parental leave period.
4. Support the self-employed who run as limited companies
Include those who are self-employed and run as limited companies and pay themselves in dividends in the self-employed income support scheme.
5. Reassess the £50,000 cap
The £50,000 cap should be re-assessed. Those who earn just above the £50,000 cap will receive no financial support and no equivalent gap exists for those who are employed.
Self-employed people pay into the system and make their contributions, so it’s only right that at this time of crisis, they are given the support they need to get by. That must reflect the incomes they would expect to earn, whether that’s in profits or dividends.
Too many self-employed workers feel they’re not being heard, which is why we’ve written to the Chancellor calling for further action. The government needs to start listening to these worried workers and make the changes required to give them peace of mind.