Research Report

Covid19: Critique and Proposals to Develop More Comprehensive and Inclusive Support for the SelfEmployed

ERC Research Report.



Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
  • COVID-19

The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised the self-employed they are ‘not forgotten’ and claimed that his headline programme – the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – will protect 95% of those for whom self-employment is a main job. However, the policy excludes start-ups and, in an initial critique, we called for businesses without a 201819 Self-Assessment record (new businesses or those that did not become profitable until after April 6 2019) to have a chance to do their 2019-20 assessment early from April 6th 2020 for one month. This would then make them eligible for an SEISS payment in June 2020.
We also analysed Covid19 support for the self-employed in Germany and Denmark and found more comprehensive packages, supporting business costs and not just selfemployed income.

Following further discussion and analysis, this document outlines in detail the support for income losses and business losses or cash flow problems available to four categories of self-employed worker under UK Covid19 policy: the established self-employed for whom self-employment is a main job; the new(ish) self-employed for whom self-employment is a main job; the self-employed as a second job, and; the established self-employed who grew their businesses so self-employment became their main job in 2019-20. See Tables 1-4 below. We estimate that nearly I in 5 of the self-employed – over 750,000 people – are excluded from the SEISS and that many of the unprotected will have low or no social protection under Universal Credit and the Employment and Support Allowance. This means that some have no pay during periods of Covid19 sickness and self-isolation, a situation that could undermine the social distancing strategy. Home-based businesses without premises have no access to grant support with business losses and, we argue, are likely to be reluctant to apply for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme or, indeed, to be eligible for this fund.