SEISS: Newly self employed ‘likely to be included’ in next round of SEISS grant at Budget
Martin Lewis gives update on SEISS grant for self-employed
Millions of self-employed workers haven’t been eligible for the grant in the past, forcing them to dig deep just to survive. From performance artists and creative workers to taxi drivers and TV employees, thousands of professions come under the self-employed umbrella. While the Government has spent in excess of £13billion on the SEISS scheme since March – around twice as much as the cost of furlough – the help has been very poorly targeted.
A survey from the Resolution Foundation indicated 435,000 people were able to claim the grants of 80 percent of their usual earnings even though they hadn’t lost any income during the pandemic.
On the other hand, 500,000 had received absolutely no support from the scheme even though by September, they still were out of work.
Undoubtedly, it’s difficult to paint the picture of just how many people have fallen through the cracks of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s program.
But one thing is certain, up to three million would not have qualified for the main income support schemes if they lost work, according to estimates presented by the National Audit Office.
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An estimated million people were ineligible for furlough too because they were short term contractors moving in between jobs.
Simon Warne, partner of private clients at national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm, Crowe, acknowledged the numerous holes in the SEISS scheme.
He told Express.co.uk: “Some have said the Covid-19 support measures for those not in employment do not go far enough.
“These gaps can be seen in those whose self-employment income was less than half of their total earnings, those who earned more than £500,000, the recently self-employed and also directors who operate through personal services companies.
“These groups and others, such as those who were made redundant rather than put on furlough, are likely to be surviving on savings while some will be taking on additional debt.”
The scheme has already been reviewed three times, but still, the Government hasn’t attempted to implement any support for those left behind.
But according to Mr Warne, this could all change in the upcoming Budget, in which the Chancellor is expected to lay out details of the fourth self-employed income support scheme.
Mr Warne explained: “Apart from existing claimants, the group most likely to be included in round four of SEISS will be those new self-employed individuals.
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“Perhaps 400,000 in number who submitted their first self-assessment income tax return for 2019/2020, which was due by January 31, 2021.”
In terms of what else the Budget could contain for self-employed workers, Mr Warne says it’s unlikely to be a positive change.
He explained: “For the others, the Budget is unlikely to contain good news.
“And among the tax reforms which have been hinted at over the last year, the tax breaks historically enjoyed by directors of personal service and family companies via national insurance savings and lower tax on dividends may soon be examined, either in the forthcoming Budget or in a further one which may follow in the Autumn.”
In terms of what Mr Sunak will be looking to in his Budget, Mr Warne thinks the Chancellor will set his sights on furlough.
The partner said: “Sunak’s main Budget focus is likely to be on the estimated 9.9million employees still on furlough when the Government support expires at the end of April.
“This is likely, rather than looking to provide any broad-based help for the excluded groups who may have had to resort to benefits, such as income support.”
Hopefully, the situation for the self-employed will be resolved in the Budget on March 3, and more clarity will be provided as to what the future holds financially.
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