Latest lockdown help for businesses welcome but support for those excluded more pressing than ever

The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs Business Debtline, has welcomed the Chancellor’s new lockdown grants for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, but called on the Government to go further by providing help for the millions of self-employed people so far excluded from existing support schemes.

Findings from a recent report from the charity into the impact of Covid-19 on self-employed people showed that:

  • 37% of self-employed people surveyed expect it to take more than a year for their income to recover – while one in 10 do not expect it to at all.
  • More than half (55%) said Covid financial worries had a negative impact on their mental health, with four in ten (43%) regularly losing sleep.
  • Many who were ineligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme or other support are struggling to get by on Universal Credit alone. Almost half (47%) of self-employed people surveyed who were on Universal Credit were behind on at least one household bill or credit commitment.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “Today’s announcement of top-up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will provide some welcome short-term relief to many business owners affected by the latest lockdown. Covid-19, however, has dealt a huge and devastating blow to the finances of many self-employed people. While Government schemes have helped, today’s announcement will provide little comfort for those people who remain excluded from support.

“A dedicated grant fund for those excluded from existing support schemes is needed now more than ever, along with an extension to the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit to provide certainty for those people most in need. This should form part of a Covid-19 Self-employment Recovery Strategy to provide a route out of this situation.

“Our Business Debtline advisers are doing all we can to support the thousands of self-employed people already struggling. Without further action now though, the financial challenges facing self-employed people are only set to worsen.”