Self-employed struggle as SEISS deadline approaches: ‘I wasn’t entitled to a penny of support.’
As the economy was devastated by the coronavirus in 2020, SELF-EMPLOYED employees were particularly badly hit. Freelancers were among the last to receive government assistance, and even after the SEISS scheme was established, strict qualifying requirements prevented millions of people from claiming the payments. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released a report today on how the pandemic affects various demographics’ finances, and the data showed that the self-employed are having a harder time “making ends meet,” even while other cohorts’ fortunes improved.
The SEISS initiative was announced by Rishi Sunak in mid-May 2020 in an attempt to assist the self-employed sector, however the Chancellor was chastised for his late response in the case of freelancers, while mortgage holders and employees had previously been granted assistance. Furthermore, as the scheme was scrutinized, it became clear that many self-employed employees would be disqualified for assistance due to strict eligibility restrictions, with groups like Excluded UK estimating that up to three million people could have been left out. Following mounting pressure, the government eventually caved in and modified the system to try to make up for the deficiencies, but newly available data suggests that the modifications were too little, too late.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released a new analysis today on how household expenditures and finances fared in the aftermath of the pandemic. According to the study, the ability of self-employed employees (as well as other groups such as young workers and those from minority backgrounds) to make ends meet decreased in the year leading up to March 2021.
Unlike the general population, self-employed people had a harder time making ends meet after the pandemic. “Throughout the pandemic, self-employed people were continuously more likely than employees to report lower hours and income,” according to the ONS.
“As the third lockout began to lessen towards the end of March 2021, 28 percent of self-employed workers continued to report reduced hours, compared to only 5% of employees. Similarly, more than a third (34%) of employees reported lower pay, compared to only 10% of employees.
“During the pandemic, self-employed workers were more over twice as likely as employees to report borrowing money, though this difference lessened once restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2021. More over 7% of self-employed workers used savings in the week ending August 1, 2021, compared to less.”Brinkwire Summary News.”