Rishi Sunak faces demands to change SEISS grants – Government ‘side-lines’ 650,000 workers

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SEISS has been extended and the extension will last for six months under current plans, from November 2020 to April 2021. The grants themselves will be paid in two lump sum instalments covering a three-month period from November 1 to January 31, 2021.

Rishi Sunak confirmed the third set of grants will cover 80 percent of average monthly trading profits covering three months, capped at £7,500 in total.

Additionally, the government has confirmed there will be a fourth set of grants covering February to April but details on this will be set out “in due course”.

The level of support from these fourth grants could be lowered or raised and will largely depend on how the economy is coping with coronavirus.

Ahead of the oncoming details, however, calls have emerged for the Government to pre-emptively rectify certain issues.

Kevin Sefton, the CEO of United, the personal tax app, called on the government to cover the UK’s more recent entrepreneurs and self-employed workers who may have been excluded from support thus far.

Kevin explained: “Whilst Rishi Sunak confirmed more generous terms for the third grant earlier this month, he is still side-lining a significant number of people who work for themselves because they only started trading in 2019.

“We estimate 650,000 people became newly self-employed in the last 18 months and they are being left to struggle to make ends meet during the critical Christmas and New Year period.

“As applications for the third grant will open on 30 November, it doesn’t look like help is available at the moment for the country’s many freelancers and sole traders until at least the end of January.

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“However we hope that by the time the details of the fourth SEISS grant emerge, it will cover more of the people that have shown just the entrepreneurial spirit that the UK has been encouraging over the years.”

These kinds of problems have been highlighted by a number of organisations in recent weeks as the government’s efforts have been criticised for unfairly excluding certain workers.

As an example, Liron Smadja, the Director of Global Expansion Marketing at Fiverr, highlighted how some self-employed workers are left out due to a technicality within the rules: “The Government’s extension of the SEISS scheme is encouraging for Britain’s army of self-employed entrepreneurs – but there are some serious issues in the way it’s been targeted that must be addressed.

“Many freelancers in our community use self-employed work as a way of topping up their income – but the scheme only recognises those who get more than half of their income from self-employed work.

“This means some of the most enterprising people in the economy, who may have been balancing multiple employer responsibilities, are being left out in the cold.

“The newly self-employed are also struggling – because they are unable to access funding as they don’t have a record of making trading profits.

“We encourage the Government to think carefully about the targeting behind this most welcome intervention, to make sure the funds are getting through to those who need them most.”

When questioned on these problems, the government often details where a person cannot access support from SEISS, they may be able to seek income from Universal Credit.

Universal Credit can provide tailored payments to those who have fallen on financially hard times.

The self-employed can receive support from Universal Credit so long as the following information is provided on a monthly basis throughout the assessment period:

  • how much is earned from self-employment, even if it’s nothing
  • any money you paid into a pension
  • information about the business
  • the total amount of money the business received
  • how much the business spends on different types of expenses, such as travel costs, stock, equipment and tools, clothing and office costs
  • how much tax and National Insurance the business paid

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