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Gloucestershire Business News

Chancellor urged to address "cracks" despite self-employed help

Fresh calls have been made for further support for the self-employed, despite the Government increasing the amount they can claim during the November lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced changes to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which means eligible workers will be able to claim for 80 per cent of trading profits from the last year for the month, rather than the existing 40 per cent.

Applications will open at the end of the month which means the three-month payment from November to January will provide 55 per cent of profits to a cap of £5,160.

Businesses will be able to apply for government-backed loans until January 31, rather than some November 30 deadlines, and have vowed to pay grants quicker than previously planned.

Firms can also top up existing Bounce Back Loans.

Mr Sunak said: "I've always said we will continue to do everything we can to support livelihoods across the UK.

"The rapidly changing health picture has meant we have had to act in order to protect people's lives and I know this is incredibly worrying time for the self-employed.

"That is why we have increased the generosity of the third grant, ensuring those who cannot trade or are facing decreased demand are able to get through the months ahead."

While the increased help has been welcomed, there is frustration that freelancers, contractors and newly self-employed workers remain excluded from support packages.

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: ""The uprating of the Self-Employment Income Scheme to 80 per cent for November is generous and will likely help around two million self-employed people - bringing forward the application date is helpful.

"Many of our self-employed are still not included in the initiative. This is a five-million strong community that drives our economy forward, but the Government has insisted large swathes of it do not warrant any help where income is concerned.

"We have sadly already seen 250,000 self-employed people stop working and become economically inactive, a figure which is set to continue rising."

He called for changes to the business rates system to help small firms' survival prospects.

"Far too many small firms are still being caught by an outdated, bruising business rates system and are looking to 2021 with a sense of real foreboding, wondering how they will be able to afford government-imposed upfront costs without any revenues," he said.

"Fundamentally, the business support landscape still remains too much of a mixed picture - a fact made all the more concerning given that this fresh lockdown in England is taking effect during the critical festive season.

"There are those - including company directors, the newly self-employed, start-ups, those without physical premises and those further down supply chains in especially hard-hit sectors - who are struggling to access any meaningful support at all.

"Until these cracks are addressed, our economic recovery is destined to keep faltering."

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