Lifeline for self-employed freelancers? Half a million people could benefit

MORE than half a million freelancers excluded from state support could be handed a last-minute lifeline, according to a story in The Telegraph on Wednesday.

An army of newly self-employed workers who missed out on previous payouts worth up to £21,500 could finally qualify for help next month if the Treasury agrees to expand its scheme following pressure from MPs.

The Government’s grant programme for freelancers is only available to those who can show proof of income on a completed tax return.

This left out workers who set up on their own in 2018-19, because they had not been required to fill in this paperwork at the time Covid hit.

However, most of these freelancers will have filed full-year accounts by this year’s January 31 tax return deadline – which could allow them to make a claim under the final grant payment in February if ministers change the rules.

Close to 591,000 people became self employed during the 2018-19 tax year, according to freelancer trade body Ipse.

Even with large numbers planning to delay submitting tax returns this year, MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gaps in Support estimate that at least 150,000 freelancers still struggling would benefit.

The extra grants would cost just £600m but would give a massive boost to freelancers who have suffered significant drops in income. Many have been pushed to the brink and left struggling.

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