Relief for the self-employed, but dedicated hardship fund ‘needed now’

The Chancellor’s introduction of a Self-employed Income Support Scheme for self-employed people affected by the impact of Coronavirus is welcome but does not provide the immediate cash support many need, according to the Money Advice Trust, which runs the Business Debtline advice service.

The new Scheme, which brings parity in the support available for 95% of ‘majority self-employed’ people with those in employment, will provide a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over the last three years. It will be open to majority self-employed people across the UK for 3 months, and may be extended, who have profits of up to £50,000 and who filed a tax return for 2019.

The charity continues to call for a dedicated hardship fund for self-employed people affected by the Coronavirus impact.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “This new incomes support will come as a relief to the millions of self-employed people whose businesses have been hit by the Coronavirus outbreak – but having to wait until June for payments to come through will cause real hardship for many. The Government should introduce a dedicated hardship fund for self-employed people who are struggling in the meantime.

“Nearly every single call we are taking at our Business Debtline service is from self-employed people affected by the impact of Coronavirus. The electricians, plumbers and taxi drivers we are hearing from, who cannot work from home, are losing money by the hour – and telling them they can try and access Universal Credit is not enough.

“The Chancellor’s task is an incredibly difficult one and he has already shown he is prepared to make big, bold decisions when needed. I would encourage him to do so again and introduce a dedicated hardship fund for self-employed people, to help them cope with the difficult two months ahead.”

The Money Advice Trust is continuing to engage the Government on the need to support household and small business finances through the Coronavirus crisis, following the publication of the Money Advice Trust and StepChange Debt Charity’s proposed ‘Rescue Package’ recommendations last week.