Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
17 April 2020updated 26 Jul 2021 7:29am

More than 150,000 self-employed not covered by government support scheme

By Nicu Calcea

Some 151,000 started self-employment after March 2019, new data has revealed – meaning they are not eligible for help under the government’s Covid-19 support scheme.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on March 20 that the state would cover 80 per cent of wages – up to a maximum of £2,500 a month – if company employees were put on furlough.

The scheme was then extended to allow self-employed people to claim a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their monthly profits, with a similar limit of £2,500 a month.

There are several criteria for claiming the grant, however – including that a self-employed person must have submitted a tax return for the 2018-2019 tax year by April 2019. That means those who became self-employed after that date would not be eligible for support, under current rules.

New analysis by the Office for National Statistics estimates the number of self-employed people in the UK to be more than five million, or around 15 per cent of the working population. Out of those, 151,000 started self-employment after March 2019 – meaning they are not eligible for the government grant.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

As the estimates are based on data collected from January to December 2019, they don’t include the people who might have become self-employed since the start of this year and would also miss out on the scheme. In addition to having submitted tax forms by April 2019, claimants need to prove that they have been self-employed for the past year and will continue to be in the future, and that the coronavirus pandemic has affected their income.

Content from our partners
Why competition is the key to customer satisfaction
High streets remain vitally important to local communities
The future of gas