Small firms up calls for sole trader support as Universal Credit claims soar

Press Releases 19 May 2020

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and seeking support under the Universal Credit “searching for work” conditionality rose by 69% to over two million between March and April.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) research shows that close to one in ten (8%) business owners have applied for universal credit, with close to a third (29%) having their applications rejected.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “While employees have been given some certainty about the months ahead following a much-needed extension of the job retention scheme, sole traders have been left in the dark.

“More than two million self-employed people have applied for the self-employment income support scheme which is encouraging. But they’re now facing a total earnings cliff-edge in less than two weeks’ time. Many work in sectors which will be among the last to have restrictions eased.

“Thousands are fearing for their futures. They need assurances urgently. That includes those who have been left out of grant and income support initiatives entirely, not least company directors who are unable to furlough themselves.  

“Today’s figures underscore the importance and success of the job retention scheme. We now need to see detail on the envisaged terms of use for the scheme beyond July when more of a financial burden will be placed on employers, to ensure those additional requirements are affordable.

“Keeping people in work – whether they’re employees or self-employed – will be critical to reducing a scarring of the economy and achieving a v-shaped recovery.”  


Notes to Editors
1) FSB surveyed 5,471 small business owners between 22 and 30 April 2020.
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About FSB
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB’s) mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. As well as being the UK’s leading business campaigning organisation, FSB also offers its members a wide range of vital business services, including a 24/7 legal advice line, access to finance, cyber protection, events and a powerful voice heard in governments.

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