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Third Covid-19 grant for freelances now open – but 3 million left out in the cold

© red engine

3 December 2020

Applications to claim the third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant are now open and claims must be made on or before 29 January 2021.

The third taxable grant is worth 80 per cent of average monthly trading profits and will be paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits. It is capped at £7,500. The UK government said there will be a fourth grant to cover February to April but have not yet released the details.

To make a claim for the third grant your business must have had a new or continuing impact from coronavirus between 1 November 2020 and 29 January 2021, which you reasonably believe will have a significant reduction in your profits.

Despite the continued calls from the NUJ to provide financial support to those who have so far been excluded from the SEISS scheme, individuals who were not eligible for the first and second grants will not be eligible for the third grant.

The NUJ was co-signatory of a letter this weekend to the Chancellor telling him that failing yet again to address the gaps in financial support for freelances leaves them facing a very difficult winter. The trade unions and business organisations proposed a meeting with Rishi Sunak to discuss ways this can be resolved. The letter said:

“We understand that these schemes were set up in haste and that it was difficult at the outset to broaden their scope, however these schemes are now set to run for at least a year and the continued omission of these workers is causing immeasurable hardship and huge mental health consequences for those impacted and their families. 
“While some of these issues present technical difficulties to resolve, solutions have been proposed to you – such as the new Directors Income Support Scheme which shows how the government can help those with income from dividends from working in their companies, as opposed to passive investment.”

Pamela Morton, NUJ national freelance organiser, said:

“While the third SEISS grant has thankfully reverted back to the 80 per cent for November to January, we still don’t know what the fourth grant will be and this uncertainty will add to the stress and anxiety our freelance members are already suffering. It’s getting to be almost a year since many freelances, estimated to be 3 million, have had no aid and there are no signs their work will return soon.
“As part of the Fair Deal for Freelances campaign we will continue to lobby on their behalf. Many of the so-called newly freelance will now have plenty of evidence of their earnings (or lack of earnings) that can be verified with HM Revenues and Customs. Covid-19 has highlighted the precarious life of a freelance who pays tax and contributes to the economy but is not eligible to many state benefits or protections enjoyed by those on staff. Our campaign aims to earn a greater parity for those who are self-employed.”

The NUJ has published a freelance charter as part of its Fair Deal for Freelances campaign. It calls for the right to organise in a trade union, to have a written contract with fair terms and conditions, prompt payment and equal treatment at work in terms of health and safety. Freelances should get holiday pay, parental leave and allowances and a retirement pension. They should have the right to resist companies forcing them on to PAYE, to incorporate as a limited company, or work under umbrella companies. The campaign will ask employers, employer organisations, industry bodies, politicians and individual supporters to sign up to its aims. 

Tags: , Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, seiss, covid-19, coronavirus, forgotten freelances, fair deal for freelances, freelance, freelance charter, self-employed, rishi sunak