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Why we're fighting for the self-employed

May 14, 2020 1:05 PM
By Liberal Democrats
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Taxi drivers, hairdressers, cleaners, childcare providers and millions more self-employed people have seen their incomes evaporate as people rightly stay at home to save lives. They desperately need the Government to support them.

We're urging the Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme in full until October

When the Government announced the furlough scheme for employees back in March, there was nothing for self-employed workers. So the Liberal Democrats campaigned for a package for the self-employed that is as generous as that for employees.

We won. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which opened yesterday, will be a lifeline for millions.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor announced an extension of the furlough scheme until October - something the Liberal Democrats had been campaigning for too.

But, once again, he left self-employed people out.

So now we're urging the Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme in full until October, and to expand it to cover the many self-employed people who are currently excluded.

Self-employed people have waited far too long for this support, and they must not see it snatched away too early.

What is the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme?

The Government's scheme covers 80% of your self-employed earnings for three months, paid as a one-off grant and capped at £7,500 altogether. Earnings are calculated as the average of your trading profits over the last three tax years.

Who is eligible and who isn't?

The scheme is available to self-employed people who traded in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and intend to continue trading in 2020-21, and whose trading profits are no more than £50,000.

The Government has excluded far too many self-employed people from the scheme, including more than 150,000 people who became self-employed since April 2019 and those who are registered as Personal Service Companies.

When does the scheme end?

The Government says that the scheme is temporary and only covers three months' earnings. Self-employed people can apply for a one-off grant this week, but as things stand they won't receive any support after that.

Both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister refused to commit to extending it when Ed Davey urged them to in the House of Commons this week.

Why does the scheme need to be extended?

Millions of self-employed people across the UK have had their livelihoods devastated over the last few weeks, and will not see them recover for a while to come. They need far more than three months' worth of support.

The furlough scheme for employees has been extended to October - meaning they'll receive eight months of support in total. The Government must do the same for self-employed people.

What are the Liberal Democrats calling for?

We are calling on the Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme in full until October.

We are also calling for the scheme to be expanded to cover the many self-employed people who are currently excluded - including people who became self-employed since April 2019 and those who are registered as Personal Service Companies.