The chief executive of national poverty charity, Turn2us, Thomas Lawson, has warned that urgent action is needed to provide more support for the self-employed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Lawson said: “While the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, announced by the Chancellor, is a positive step to protect self-employed people, for the millions of self-employed people who have had no income since February due to the coronavirus pandemic waiting till June for Government payments is too long and waiting five weeks for Universal Credit is too long.
“And for the gig economy workers who have already lost hours, the people who have already lost work and the self-employed with less than a year under there belt, there is simply not enough help.”
Thomas Lawson goes on to outline the specific gaps in support leaving many without a safety net at the critical time:
Speed is of the essence
“Firstly, the speed at which people will be able to access this support is too slow. We have had thousands of self-employed people come to us for help over the last few days, and immediate cash flow is the critical problem.
“They simply cannot wait until June. It is vital that the government provides immediate and easily accessible support for the self-employed.”
Many people are still slipping through the cracks
“A further significant issue with the scheme is that people whose businesses are less than a year old and thus don’t have a 2018/19 tax return will not be eligible for support.
“This cuts off a large number of people who may still have been self-employed for some time.
“These people must be offered a helping hand beyond Universal Credit which will leave them on average £781 worse off than employees who can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”
“Many others are still being are still being left cast adrift. What about zero-hours contract workers who have had their hours reduced but still need to feed their family? What about people whose employers have already laid them off.”
Universal Credit is a flawed solution
“Many self-employed people will need to apply for Universal Credit to tied them over until June, but after they’ve navigated the widely publicised wait times to get their application processed they will still have to wait 5 weeks for their first payment or take out an advance they will need to pay back.”
“After receiving their taxable grant from the scheme self-employed people will then need to pay back not only the loan but all of the support they have received from Universal Credit.
“This creates a large inefficiency for the already overburdened DWP as well as a likely high amount of stress and confusion for the claimant.”