Self-employed to be hit as Boris Johnsons extends lockdown – new 'stimulus package' urged

6 mins read

Self-employed workers have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, but new employment figures released from the ONS showed freelancers may be recovering from the effects of coronavirus. According to the ONS, the total number of freelancers in March had risen by 21,000 compared to the previous month.

This is the second consecutive month-on-month increase in self-employed numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, IPSE warned there are still 500,000 fewer freelancers now than there were in the same period last year.

Andy Chamberlain, the Director of Policy at IPSE, commented on this and reflected on the additional challenges the self-employed may face in light of the recent lockdown extension.

He said: “The data this morning shows clear and welcome signs the self-employed sector is finally moving in the right direction.

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“Although overall numbers are still down by over 500,000 compared to the same time last year, we have now seen the second month-on-month increase in the number of self-employed since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The halt to the roadmap announced yesterday, however, may be a blow to this progress, and we continue to urge the Government to introduce a sectoral support and stimulus package to protect affected sectors such as events and the creative industry – and also give them the boost they need to get back on their feet once the economy fully re-opens.”

Yesterday, Boris Johnson announced there would be a short extension to reopening the economy in the face of new coronavirus variants.

This was undoubtedly disheartening for the British public but the Prime Minister assured it should be the last extension of its kind as the Government ramps up its vaccine commitments.

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As he detailed: “By Monday 19 July we will aim to have double jabbed around two thirds of the adult population including everyone over 50, all the vulnerable, all the frontline health and care workers and everyone over 40 who received their first dose by mid-May. And to do this we will now accelerate the 2nd jabs for those over 40 – just as we did for the vulnerable groups – so they get maximum protection as fast as possible.

“And we will bring forward our target to give every adult in this country a first dose by 19th July that is including young people over the age of 18 with 23 and 24 year olds invited to book jabs from tomorrow – so we reduce the risk of transmission among groups that mix the most. And to give the NHS that extra time we will hold off step four openings until July 19 except for weddings that can still go ahead with more than 30 guests provided social distancing remains in place and the same will apply to wakes.

“And we will continue the pilot events – such as Euro2020 and some theatrical performances. We will monitor the position every day and if after two weeks we have concluded that the risk has diminished then we reserve the possibility of proceeding to Step fout and full opening sooner.

“As things stand – and on the basis of the evidence I can see right now – I am confident we will not need any more than four weeks and we won’t need to go beyond July 19. It is unmistakably clear the vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves.”

For self-employed workers who are still being hit by the pandemic, it is possible to receive continued support through SEISS.

A fifth set of grants, covering May to September 2021, will be open to claims from late July onwards.

These grants, as with the ones that came before them, will be taxable and paid out in a single instalment.

The Government details guidance for claiming these grants will be available by the end of June.

To be eligible for the fifth set of grants, a person must be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership.

They must also have traded throughout the 2019 to 2021 tax years.

Claimants must also either:

  • Be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
  • Have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

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