Chancellor urged to help a million people not covered by coronavirus business support

Chancellor urged to help a million people not covered by coronavirus business support
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Mon 15th Jun 2020

More than one million business owners, self-employed individuals and employees have fallen through the gaps of coronavirus support and the government must take action to help them.

That's the demand of the Treasury Committee which has published an interim report as part of its inquiry into the economic impact of coronavirus.

It said significant support measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) have been welcomed but quickly rolling out such major initiatives has "resulted in some hard edges in policy design and some critical gaps in provision".

The MPs said that two months into lockdown, many people face endure financial hardship but can't access the government's main support schemes.

It highlighted the following groups:

  • The newly employed: According to the report, hundreds of thousands of people who have started a new job aren't covered by CJRS because of the criteria for when employers must have submitted payroll paperwork to HMRC. The Committee said the government extend eligibility criteria to all new starters, perhaps by extending the cut-off date to 31 March, or by accepting alternative forms of evidence of employment.

  • Those newly self-employed: Many people who have started a business in the last year don't qualify for SEISS as they cannot fulfil the eligibility criteria. The Committee said the government should extend support to this group.

  • Those self-employed with annual trading profits in excess of £50,000: The Committee said hundreds of thousands of people are potentially suffering due to the "arbitrary £50,000 cut-off" in SEISS. The government should remove the £50,000 cap, it said, and allow those with profits just over this cap access support.

  • Directors of limited companies who take a large part of their income in dividends: Despite suggestions from groups including Enterprise Nation, director dividends are not covered by any schemes so the Committee called for a solution whereby HMRC requests additional information about the proportion of dividends that have come from company profits and from other sources with self-certification by the applicant.

  • Freelancers or those on short term contracts: The Committee said it "cannot be right" that in industries such as television and theatre, where short-term PAYE contracts are the norm, many workers are not entitled to support under CJRS or SEISS. It urged the government to extend support to this group.

Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury Committee, said: "The chancellor has said that he will do whatever it takes to support people and businesses from the economic impact of the pandemic.

"Overall, he has acted at impressive scale and pace. However, the Committee has identified well over a million people who - through no fault of their own - have lost livelihoods while being locked down and locked out of the main support programmes.

"If it is to be fair and completely fulfil its promise of doing whatever it takes, the government should urgently enact our recommendations to help those who have fallen through the gaps."

Image credit: HM Treasury

The latest coronavirus support information

We are keeping you updated on the latest information on how to access the government's coronavirus business support here. You can also find advice and ask a question on Enterprise Nation's coronavirus business advice hub. Follow Enterprise Nation on Twitter too for updates.

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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