The newly formed IHC has welcomed the Government’s announcement of the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme on 26th March, as much of the complementary healthcare industry falls into this category.
However, there are concerns that Government action in this area will not reach a considerable number of these workers, leading to financial hardship for this valued subsection of the working population.
This group includes those:
• who became self-employed after 5th April 2019
• who have invested much of their profit in the start-up of their new business
These workers will receive no support unless they fit into the tight constraints of the Universal Credit system, which was originally developed for non-workers.
Some members of IHC organisations have only been self-employed for this tax year, others have invested their net income, but all have shown commitment to their new careers by financing their training, completing a qualification, and by registering with a professional membership body. IHC suggests that, where these criteria have been met, the Government offers some support at this difficult time.
IHC proposes that there is a grant of £550 per month for any complementary healthcare worker who does not currently receive the employment or self-employment grants, but who holds a full membership with one of their recognised complementary healthcare organisations as of 1st January 2020.
This will provide, in some part, analogous provision with Government supported employees and the self-employed. This grant is comparable to those that have not been working, but on Universal Credit at £318 per month, and is currently less than the basic pension. The same grant of £550 could be provided to any workers that currently receive no support because they have chosen to show entrepreneurial spirit and re-invested their income in their new businesses, and therefore show little profit to date. The self-employed grant is wholly based on an ability to show profit, which many small businesses especially at start-up, do not.
This grant should also be provided, therefore, as a top-up to those businesses that have small profits reimbursed by the self-employment income support scheme but that deliver less than £550 per month.
Secondly, where there are part-employed workers that depend on supplementing their paid income with their self-employment, there is now a considerable gap between their situation, and what both the employed and the self-employed receive, with 80% of their usual income protected by the Government’s income protection schemes.
Where income tax is paid annually on self-employment, regardless of any other income, the Government Self-employment Income Support Scheme should provide the standard profit-based grant. This would ensure parity for the part-time self-employed.
Whilst IHC members appreciate the challenge the Government faces in supporting workers in need, but also preventing fraud, they ask it to show fairness and parity in its approach, and accept that some workers do not fall into the narrow boundaries of the current financial relief.
IHC has therefore written to the Chancellor calling for action to limit financial hardship for this subsection of the self-employed, which could prevent many micro businesses going out of business in the aftermath of Covid-19.