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More help for the self-employed, but Universal Credit change must be extended too

​The Money Advice Trust has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement that Self-employment Income Support Scheme grants will be calculated on the basis of 80% of average earnings, for the month of November – bringing this into line with the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

 
However, the Minimum Income Floor calculation in Universal Credit – which was temporarily scrapped in March to give self-employed people fairer access to Universal Credit – is still set to expire later in November.  The charity has joined growing calls for this change to be extended or made permanent.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:
 
“We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to increase Self-employment Income Support Scheme grants to 80% of average earnings for the month of November – bringing this into line with the furlough extension.  While many self-employed people continue to find themselves excluded from this support, today’s move will at least improve the support available to those who are eligible for it, as we enter a second lockdown.
 
“The Government must go further, however, and extend its temporary scrapping of the Minimum Income Floor in Universal Credit – which has given self-employed people fairer access to welfare support since March.  As it stands this measure expires later this month.  While this may sound like a technical change, the real-world impact of the Minimum Income Floor returning will be that many self-employed people will see their Universal Credit payments cut at the worst possible time.
 
“More widely, it feels like the Government will eventually have to extend its £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit beyond its current expiry in April.  It would be far better to announce this now – to give people who have unfortunately lost their jobs the reassurance they need that this additional support will continue.” 
 
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