As members of the UK’s business community, representing the 5 million people who are self-employed or freelance, we are extremely concerned that the offer of support for this group has not gone far enough. Whilst a good start was made for a portion of our community through the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), as announced on the 26th March 2020, we estimated that 2 million will be left with inadequate or no support. We urge the Government to do more.
By not allowing 2019/20 tax year data to calculate the SEISS, the Government is penalising those that started their self-employed journey in the last 24 months. The Government is not using the latest trading data for eligible self-employed people; some may only have partial historical earnings to use and will therefore not receive appropriate support.
At least 50% of a person’s income across 2018/19, 2017/18 and 2016/17 must come from self-employment to qualify for SEISS. As many self-employed people start as a “side-gig”, they may only have recently gone full-time self-employed and are not eligible for support.
Our data reveals just how worried self-employed people are; almost three quarters (71%) feel they will not benefit from the current COVID-19 support offering, with a third (36%) of those saying that themselves or their family is at risk and half (53%) saying that it will be difficult for them to continue.
Also, the data highlights that 88% of those who are eligible for the SEISS cannot wait until June to receive financial support. We believe this needs to change, fast. Members of the self-employed community are struggling to pay their mortgage, bills and buy food today.
Furthermore, many self-employed people operate under a limited company as required by clients or to limit liability in higher-risk industries like IT. Sole directors of limited companies are not included in the SEISS, leaving them to get support elsewhere.
If the Chancellor really does mean it when he says “We all stand together”, then we urge the government to take into consideration a fast and simple method to provide the much-needed funding for the self-employed and freelance communities.
We as an industry are ready to support the Treasury and HMRC in standing together with the UK’s 5 million self-employed people, who are critical to a vibrant and dynamic economy. We have the ideas, tools and technology necessary to make this happen, working alongside existing government processes.
We would welcome engagement with the Government to share our resources and ideas.
 Coconut survey of 2,032 UK self-employed people compiled 27-31 March 2020
The more attention we can garner together through MPs at a grass roots level, the greater the chance these issues will be brought to wider attention in parliament.
You can find out who they are here.
As a collective of organisations who work to support the self-employed community we are working hard to address the gaps in the current Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. You can find out more about what we're doing and sign-up for updates here.