Over the past 24 hours, there has been lots in the news about the furlough scheme which has been extended for the month of November at 80% to support workers during the course of the lockdown in England.
Unfortunately, there is little action from the Chancellor to bring forward support for the self-employed. Currently, his intention is to offer a grant based on 40% of profits to see people over the next six month period.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister announced that the self-employed would get access to an 80% grant for the month of November, but offered no further detail on this or when it would be paid. While any increased payment is to be welcomed, support for the self-employed across the UK shouldn't depend on whether or not England is in lockdown.
To make matters worse, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme does not open for applications until 14 December, with payment dates being uncertain at this time.
I am not prepared to allow the Chancellor to leave my constituents in limbo like this and so have written to him today making it clear to him that I want to see a a priority review be conducted over the levels of support available to the self-employed.
Read my letter to the Chancellor below:
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
Monday 2nd November 2020
Urgent: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
I write seeking urgent clarity and a change in policy with regard to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
Many of my self-employed constituents, including taxi drivers, fitness instructors, and those in the wedding sector and events industry have been in contact with me to share their distress at their current financial circumstances. They feel that the UK Government has forgotten about them, that the level of support being offered to them is too low, and that application and payment dates for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme should be moved forward.
With England returning to a full-scale lockdown again, and many parts of the rest of the United Kingdom managing different levels of restrictions, it is abundantly clear that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is insufficient to support the millions of people who work for themselves and have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
Whilst it is welcome that the Scheme has been extended through to April 2021, there remains serious issues with the level of support as well as access to funds. I note that you have already revised your initial offer of help from 20% of profits to 40%, however this does not go anywhere near enough, and pales in comparison to the reported 80% furlough offer extended across the UK for the month of November and hopefully beyond.
Additionally, the Scheme is not scheduled to re-open for applications until 14 December and there is great uncertainty about when payments will be made thereafter. This date should urgently be brought forward so that the grant covering the three-month period from November to January can be paid sooner.
My constituents are facing real hardship at the moment and are being failed by the Treasury. I ask that you conduct a priority review of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme with a view to providing real and substantial help.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to hearing back from you.
David Linden MP