Some self employed people to fall through the crack

by Mya Bollan

Self employed workers told that they have “not been forgotten” but newly announced grants are not fully inclusive.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced measures to support self employed workers. The support means that a taxable grant will be paid to self employed or partnerships. The government will pay 80% of profits- to a maximum of £2500 per month.

To be eligible for the the Self- Employment Income Support Scheme you must meet these terms:

  • You must earn more than half of your total income from self employment
  • Your average annual trading profit must be less than £50000
  • You must have filed a tax return for 2018/19

The criteria creating concern under the scheme is that self employed individuals are required to have filed a tax return in previous years. What does this mean for those who have only recently become self employed?

Adam Guthrie is a gas engineer who has recently become self employed. He has not yet filed any tax returns and will therefore not be eligible for a grant under the newly introduced government scheme.

“Like many others in the same position, it is a scary time. Putting so much effort into getting started and now things might go under… It is a difficult time”

Self employed gas engineer Adam Guthrie

Students may also be impacted. Those who are in full time education but also rely on self employed or freelance work for income may experience financial hardship during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Student and part time self employed lash technician, Stevie Ritchie, depends on money made through her beauty business to pay her mortgage. She is eligible for a student loan but explains this is not enough to live on.

“I’ve got a mortgage and a car to pay for too…this is leaving me with a shortfall”

Stevie Ritchie

Other options are available for those who are self employed but do not meet the necessary criteria. For example, you can defer income tax payments (which are due in July this year) to January 2021. You may also be able to access Universal Credit. However, the standard monthly allowance is only £409.89

Anya Davidson is a hairdresser who went self employed just weeks before being told she can no longer work. She now has no income and the government grant scheme does not offer her any support or funding. She is worried about how she is going to cope financially. Other options, like Universal Credit, are simply not enough for many people like Anya.

“Universal Credit is won’t cover my bills. I do have family members who can hopefully support me but they’re also in the same boat with not having much of an income”

Anya Davidson

Students, like Stevie, will not be able to apply for Universal Credit as those in full time education will not be considered.

Additionally, this uncertainty could provide anxiety for those hoping to work on a self employed basis in the future. Such as students who are aiming to work for themselves or create their own brand on completion of their studies.

The continued support from the government must be appreciated, but cracks are still apparent and people will slip through them amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.


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