Help for self-employed nears £20m in Northumberland

Construction workers made the most claims for Government help during the virus crisisConstruction workers made the most claims for Government help during the virus crisis
Construction workers made the most claims for Government help during the virus crisis
Around 8,000 self-employed people in Northumberland have claimed grants through a Government scheme to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.

The claims represents 56% of self-employed workers in the area – amounting to to £19.8m in help, or £2,200 per person on average.

But the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) says businesses still "reeling" from the impact of Covid-19 need further support.

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The HM Revenue and Customs figures show around 56% of those in the area who were eligible, made a claim from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – initially for for 80% of their average monthly profits – limited to £7,500 – and later to 70% of profits and capped at £6,570.

They were among 57,000 seeking support in the North East, with construction workers making up the largest number of claims – 17,600 - and the most common age group for applicants was 45 to 54 in in line with the national pattern.

Across the UK, just over two million people applied – a take-up rate of 60%, with claims totalling £5.1bn.

Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, said the scheme has been a vital lifeline for those eligible.

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He added: "But now is not the time to withdraw support completely. Self-employed businesses are still reeling from the economic impact of coronavirus and many of them were excluded from SEISS because of its strict eligibility criteria."

Mr Chamberlain added: “As a second wave of coronavirus approaches, local lockdowns and individual quarantining measures are inevitable. Government must do more to support businesses that will be impacted by these restrictions.”

A Treasury spokesman said: "We’re committed to supporting the self-employed, and our Self Employment Income Support Scheme is one of the most generous in the world.

"Those who do not qualify will be able to access our wide range of other support that is helping people who have been affected by coronavirus – including income tax deferrals, £1 billion more support for renters, access to six-month mortgage holidays, business rates relief, grants, and bounce back loans, which provide support that is interest-free for the first 12 months.”