Chancellor right to extend support for self-employed workers, but many who need help remain excluded

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement today (Monday) that he has extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) through to February, with an 80 per cent replacement rate in November followed by a 40 per cent replacement rate in December and January (with a maximum cash grant of £5,160), Hannah Slaughter, Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Self-employed workers have been hit very hard by this crisis, with around one in seven having no work this Autumn. The Chancellor is right to have extended support today ahead of a second lockdown.

“However, he has missed an opportunity to better target support. Because payments do not reflect the extent of losses faced by the self-employed, many are receiving large payments despite being largely unaffected, while over half a million workers receive no support despite being without work entirely.

“The tying of different levels of support to particular months will also pose challenges given the uncertainty of how long this second lockdown will continue.”

Recent Resolution Foundation research – full report available here – found that:

  • Around one-in-six (17 per cent) self-employed workers who lost work in April are still without work – rising to almost a quarter (24 per cent) of 18-34 year olds who were self-employed pre-crisis.
  • Of the self-employed workers surveyed who have claimed from the SEISS, one-in-six (17 per cent, equivalent to 435,000 workers) did so despite having experienced no loss of income throughout the crisis – at a cost of around £1.3 billion.
  • Two-thirds (67 per cent) of self-employed workers who hadn’t claimed the SEISS have experienced a loss of income during the crisis. Close to 500,000 self-employed workers who were still without any work at all in September had received no SEISS support.