A north-east MP has welcomed fresh coronavirus support for self-employed people – but has hit out at UK ministers over parts of the scheme.
Last week, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) would be extended, offering people who work for themselves a second grant to help them deal with the impact of Covid-19.
Self-employed people will be able to claim the grant, worth a maximum of £6,570, in August. It is designed to cover 70% of three months’ profits.
It follows a similar scheme which was set up to cover lost earnings between up to the end of May.
However, ministers have announced the second grant will be the final support for people who are self-employed.
Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn, who claims the scheme is not open to enough people, said many had faced an anxious wait to find out whether additional support would be given at all.
And he expressed concerns the impact of Covid-19 may be felt long after the end of the scheme has ended.
He said: “On the face of it this is broadly good news but the harsh truth is that many self-employed still don’t actually qualify for the scheme and those who do have been left with unnecessary worry over whether it would be extended or not.
“Beyond that, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that the Chancellor is stating this is a ‘final grant’ is just not acceptable – unless they have found a crystal ball down the back of the sofa the UK Government must ensure that support is in place for as long as workers need it.”
Self-employed wedding cake designer Joanna Mennie, 35, from Rosehill, said her business Truly Scrumptious will have little trade until gatherings are permitted again, due to couples postponing their big day.
And the mum-of-two is worried about how she will cope if government support runs out before business picks up.
She said: “Particularly in the wedding industry, there is going to be very little work until people can have mass gatherings again. Couples are postponing their weddings.
“I am really worried about how I am going to feed my family if I am not able to access support.
“If we were offered an extension to the support or another payment if it was needed it would be a huge relief, not just for myself but for many other self-employed people.
“It is really important support is put in place to help people for as long as it’s needed.”
Applications for the second grant will open in August. Like the first, it will consist of one single payment.
Individuals will need to prove their business has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, although they do not need to have claimed the first grant to be eligible.
Mr Sunak said: “Our top priority has always been to support people, protect jobs and businesses through this crisis. The furlough and self-employment schemes have been a lifeline for millions of people and businesses.
“We stood behind Britain’s businesses and workers as we came into this crisis and we stand behind them as we come through the other side.
“Now, as we begin to re-open our country and kickstart our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining amongst the most generous in the world.”