Around 700,000 self-employed individuals who have yet to claim the government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant have today been urged to apply before the deadline next Monday by a freelancer industry body.
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) cited data published on Sunday that revealed that over 2.7 million individuals have claimed the first SEISS grant so far, with the total value of claims standing at £7.7 billion.
However, the government initially identified some 3.4 million self-employed individuals as potentially eligible, meaning there are anywhere up to 700,000 self-employed people who have not made a claim. Whilst some of those businesses may have ceased training or not been “adversely affected” by the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of other potentially eligible applicants are yet to take advantage of the scheme.
The deadline for the first grant, which is paid in a single instalment covering eighty per cent of three months’ worth of profits, capped at £7,500 in total, is next Monday, July 13. Applications can be made online.
Only self-employed sole traders or partnership members are eligible for the scheme. Limited company contractors can claim for lost salary under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are on furlough, but they cannot claim for dividends, much to the consternation of many.
Analysis of the government’s SEISS statistics suggests that while the average take-up of the scheme is now above seventy per cent, it has so far been lowest amongst younger freelancers aged between 16 and 24 (sixty-two per cent) and those over 65 (fifty-five per cent). Women are also less likely to have taken up the grant, with sixty-six per cent claiming from the scheme so far compared to seventy-two per cent of men who are potentially eligible.
The government has announced a second SEISS grant will be available for businesses affected by the coronavirus on or after July 14. Applicants will be able to make a claim from August 17.
Alasdair Hutchison, policy development manager at IPSE, said: “With days to go until the deadline on July 13, we are urging self-employed workers to double-check to see if they are eligible for the first SEISS grant.
“We would particularly encourage those freelancers in groups which have shown less take-up so far – particularly younger self-employed and women – to check their eligibility if their business has been affected so they can claim a grant.
“The deadline is also a reminder that SEISS has been a lifeline for millions of self-employed people. We were pleased to see the scheme extended for a second time but urge the government to make it fair and flexible going forward to avoid financial cliff-edge come August and to extend help to groups who have been excluded from support, such as company directors.”
10th July 2020.