personal finance

Self-employed 'undermined' compared to the rest of the workforce – freelancer numbers drop

SEISS and other coronavirus themed support measures are likely to be needed more than ever over the coming months as new data from the ONS released today showed employment prospects are in dire straits. Specifically, self-employed workers have been hit particularly hard in the early months of 2021.

Additionally, the data showed there was a 700,000 drop in the number of freelancers in January compared to the same period in 2020, a 14 percent decrease.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), responded to these figures, warning the fall shows the self-employed sector is “undermined and disadvantaged” as the economy opens up.

IPSE argues the “continuing exclusion” of a million freelancers from SEISS, as well as the “deeply damaging” changes to IR35 tax rules are to blame for the state of the sector.

Andy Chamberlain, a Director of Policy at IPSE, commented on this: “The continuing decline in self-employed numbers at the start of this year shows the drastically poor position the freelance sector is in as the economy begins to open up.

“In fact, looking at the year-on-year change, the sector has shrunk by a shocking 14 per cent: if this was overall employment, this would be a public disaster. Government must take this seriously.

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“It is clear that the ongoing exclusion of up to a million freelancers from SEISS as well as the deeply damaging changes to IR35 tax rules have left the sector undermined and disadvantaged compared to the rest of the workforce and economy.

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“In past recessions, freelancers have been the driving force behind economic recovery and improving employment rates: if the Government wants them to play this part again, it must consider new support and stimulus measures to heal this scarred sector.”

HMRC confirmed grant four details on April 9 and struggling self-employed workers will soon be able to claim additional support.

The online service to claim fourth grants will be available from late April.

When applying for the fourth grant, claimants will need to have the following details ready:

  • Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • National Insurance number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • UK bank details including account number, sort code, name on the account and address linked to the account

So long as a claimant is eligible and their claim is processed correctly, the money should be paid into a designated account within six working days.


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