Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

FSB keeps up pressure over grants for self-employed


The Federation of Small Businesses is exerting pressure on the government over grants for self-employed people hit by coronavirus restrictions.

Pressure is mounting on the government as millions of sole traders face a financial cliff edge at the end of May, when the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has runs its course.

Meanwhile, FSB research suggests that one-in-ten self-employed workers have applied for Jobseeker’s Allowance – but a third of those (29 percent) have had their applications rejected.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme was announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak at the end of March – a week after he announced the furlough scheme for employed workers, promising “You have not been forgotten.”

Last week, the chancellor confirmed that two million of the UK's 3.8 million sole traders had applied for £6 billion under the scheme – 80 percent of their operating profit, capped at £7,500. But while the furlough scheme was extended until October – with employers expected to "share the costs" from August – there has been no further word on continuing support for the self-employed.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “While employees have been given some certainty about the months ahead following a much-needed extension of the job retention scheme, sole traders have been left in the dark.

“More than two million self-employed people have applied for the self-employment income support scheme which is encouraging. But they’re now facing a total earnings cliff-edge in less than two weeks’ time. Many work in sectors which will be among the last to have restrictions eased.

“Thousands are fearing for their futures. They need assurances urgently. That includes those who have been left out of grant and income support initiatives entirely, not least company directors who are unable to furlough themselves.

“Keeping people in work – whether they’re employees or self-employed – will be critical to reducing a scarring of the economy and achieving a v-shaped recovery.”