PRESS RELEASE: 25 October 2020
"SEISS was terribly targeted”, ExcludedUK welcomes the findings of Resolution Foundation’s latest report.
ExcludedUK welcomes the findings of Resolution Foundation's latest report which reinforces the calls made by ExcludedUK for parity of support for those excluded from government Covid-19 support schemes.
At the core of this report, Resolution Foundation finds that SEISS was poorly targeted and fundamentally flawed, while calling for a reform of income support for the self-employed so as to eliminate the exclusions and for support to reflect drops in income levels more accurately, not least given that the self-employed have faced a far greater labour market shock.
The report found that 3 in 10 self-employed workers stopped working altogether at the height of the pandemic and for many recovery has been slow, while around 1 in 6 are still without work and close to 500,000 people have received no support at all.
While the Chancellor increased the level of support for the self-employed in his latest statement from 20% to 40%, the many exclusions in the new scheme for the self-employed remain, continuing to disregard an estimated 3 million according to ExcludedUK's research, based primarily on HMRC and ONS statistics. Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert) also pointed out this glaring omission in the new measures announced by the Chancellor last week. This was an opportunity for the Chancellor to respond to the repeated calls for support for those who have been excluded from the schemes through no fault of their own, by ExcludedUK and many other organisations and campaign groups, as well many MPs. However, yet again he failed to do so.
The National Audit Office published a report on 23 October which found that 2.9 million were not eligible for the government Covid-19 financial support schemes, thus backing up ExcludedUK's estimate of 3 million, a figure which has also been backed up by Martin Lewis and Standard Life Foundation. This report also highlighted the fact that many who have lost income have not been able to access support, thus contradicting the Government's repeated assertions that everyone has been helped in some way.
The findings of Resolution Foundation's report reflect the calls made to the Treasury by ExcludedUK, and indeed the Treasury Select Committee, to plug the gaps resulting from the schemes which have created huge disparities and left those excluded facing ever-increasing financial hardship, mounting debt and a growing mental health crisis, with businesses already folding. Left unchanged, this will only add further detriment to the UK economy with an estimated 10% of the UK workforce affected by the exclusions to the schemes.
ExcludedUK echoes the comments of Hannah Slaughter, economist at Resolution Foundation, stating that the "crisis is far from over for the UK’s self-employed workers. Future support should avoid excluding so many groups, while ensuring payments reflect genuine falls in income."
While ExcludedUK has been advocating for parity and fair support for all those excluded from the income support schemes, now more than 6 months on, the urgency of addressing the financial hardship faced by these individuals and businesses cannot be underestimated. Moreover, the issue is more pressing than ever as greater regional restrictions come into force amid so much uncertainty ahead.