COVID-19: Reaction to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

CVR Global’s insolvency expert Ian Defty reacts to the Government’s latest package of support aimed at the nation’s self-employed, and what it means for the sector.

It is easy – as some people do – to level criticism at a government in times of national turmoil, and there are doubtless holes in Rishi Sunak’s package of support for the self-employed today, but the measures are, to me, a landmark in more ways than one.

When you think that we have 66.5 million people in the UK – and five million are self-employed, that is a very considerable proportion of the working population.

Yet far too often, partially due to the disparate and varied nature of what they do, they have been something of a forgotten army in the UK workforce.

But there is no doubt that, thanks to support of organisations such as the FSB, the BCC and the TUC, their voice has been heard and now taken into account by the Chancellor.

I know from dealing with self-employed people through work and socially for more than three decades, that they have struggled to access benefits and support and found mortgages and loans hard to come-by and that has seen them slip through the cracks far too often but the offer of Government support today goes a long way to support those caught up in the current extraordinary circumstances.

When you think that many of them are tradespeople carrying out work which is essential to everyday life in the UK, and working on key projects, that cannot be right.

There are those who are not caught in this net but as the Chancellor said, those who have been in business for just a few months are very difficult to cater for, but clearly he is considering those who don’t yet have three years of trading figures.

There will be paperwork and form-filling for the self-employed to do, hopefully limited, but much of the burden of delivering this package of support will fall on the HMRC, which again will come as a relief for those involved.

It does clearly highlight, however, the need for the self-employed to ensure that, going forward, they have to be as steadfast and timely in preparing and filing their tax returns and other occupational red-tape as larger commercial operations are

The Chancellor also gave passing reference about the self-employed ensuring they declare all they earn, and this will be costing those who have been less than fastidious in that regard, it is a painful lesson to learn in a time of very real need.