SEISS was extended by Rishi Sunak recently but despite this, many warned thousands of self-employed workers will find themselves ineligible for support over the coming months. On March 16, Liz Barclay was named the Small Business Commissioner who will spearhead a national effort to crackdown on delayed invoices, which the Government notes causes thousands of small businesses to close every year.
The news was also welcomed by Paul Scully, the Small Business Minister, who said: “Having run small businesses for most of my professional life I know just how toxic delayed invoices can be, causing needless uncertainty as business owners chase payments which should have been made weeks or even months ago.
“I thank Phillip King for his work tackling this issue as interim Small Business Commissioner and I welcome Liz Barclay to this hugely important role, driving the positive change we need to see and standing up for our hard-working small businesses.”
This commitment tops a number of small business efforts put forward by the Government, with the following being announced in the 2021 Budget:
- £5billion for new Restart Grants – a one off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England
- A new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme to make available loans between £25,001 and £10million, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10 million, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery
- A new Help to Grow scheme to offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK a digital and management boost
Liz Barclay’s appointment was welcomed by IPSE, who reflected on how this will help self-employed workers who may have missed out from state support.
Derek Cribb, the CEO of IPSE, commented: “We wholeheartedly welcome the new Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay and look forward to working with her to clamp down on late payment.
“Late payment is a challenge for freelancers at the best of times, but during the pandemic it can be a crippling problem.
“In fact, our research shows that over a third of freelancers have seen an increase in late payment during the pandemic, adding dramatically to their financial woes – especially those who have missed out on government support.
“Liz has been a good friend to us and a great ally of the self-employed for many years, and we know she will work with us to tackle this challenge and ensure all self-employed people promptly receive the payment they deserve and need.”
Rishi Suank and the wider Government were criticised throughout 2020 for their apparent failure to include all self-employed workers in SEISS.
However, the Chancellor attempted to address this in his recent Budget, as he confirmed in early March: “I can also announce a major improvement in access to the self-employed scheme.
“When the scheme was launched, the newly self-employed couldn’t qualify because they hadn’t all filed the 2019-20 tax return.
“But as the tax return deadline has now passed, I can announce today that, provided they filed a tax return by midnight last night, over 600,000 more people, many of whom became self-employed last year can now claim the fourth and fifth grants.
“Over the course of this crisis, we will have spent £33 billion supporting the self-employed; one of the most generous programmes for self-employed people anywhere in the world.”