According to research carried out by IPSE, the solo self-employed population has shrunk by five percent since 2019. 

After 11 years of continuous growth, the pandemic has absolutely decimated the careers and livelihoods of countless workers in the self-employed sector.

The pandemic alone is not to blame for this however. The Government’s response to the needs of the workers within the self-employed community have fallen well below the mark since March. Narrow, and frankly unfair, criteria have excluded millions of workers from accessing appropriate state support.

As the March budget looms, pressure is now mounting on the government to increase their support for self-employed workers in 2021.

What kind of support are the self-employed looking for in the budget? 

Broadly speaking, we’re looking for financial support for workers who’ve been excluded from SEISS to date. 

The 4th SEISS grant is due to be paid out to self-employed workers in the coming months and we’re calling on the government to widen their eligibility criteria so that more self-employed workers can avail of this grant.

Prior to Covid, the number of people opting to work for themselves was on the rise. Unfortunately, millions of individuals who had only become self-employed in recent years found themselves excluded from applying for state support during Covid.

Why so?

A full tax return for 2018-2019 was one of the main criteria that self-employed workers had to fulfill in order to avail of the SEISS grants to date. This meant that newly self-employed workers (of which there’s an estimated 591,000 people) were immediately excluded from accessing the SEISS grants.

With 2021 upon us, many of these newly self-employed workers who managed to hold onto work over the past year, have successfully submitted full tax returns for 2019-2020. On the back of this, we’re joining a whole host of self-employed workers and relevant organisations in proposing that these newly self-employed individuals should be entitled to avail of the 4th SEISS grant.


4th seiss grant. Woman doing work


Making the jump to self-employment is daunting at the best of times. We spend our first few months and years scrambling around and working incredibly hard to to source new clients, build strong relationships and produce quality work. 

Throw a pandemic in the mix and it’s very easy to understand why many of those who’d been newly self-employed at the onset of Covid decided to shut down shop over the past year. 

Those who’ve managed to weather these past eleven months, to find work and continue chipping away without any state support, need to be acknowledged and properly supported in the March budget. Otherwise they too will fall by the wayside, which will not only impact their livelihoods, but the collective ability of our nation to get back on its feet when Covid eventually subsides. 

Self-employed workers not only provide companies with an alternative solution to full-time hires but their expertise in remote working, virtual collaboration and agile work will be of huge value to companies as they attempt to navigate a growing digital landscape in the coming years. 

Brexit coupled with Covid will have a major impact on the UK economy in the coming years. If the government is depending on the self-employed to help them recover from this tumultuous period they need to acknowledge the precarious nature of their current situations and respond to their needs appropriately in the upcoming budget.

It’s time for the government to show up for the self-employed.


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