The government is facing calls for extending entitlement to sickness benefits, as more than half of self-employed was rejected from Covid isolation support payments, forcing them to rely on loans or savings.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has repeatedly promised to create a UK economy built on a “corporate culture”, but research, published today by the Community Trade Union, suggests that the self-employed have been left out of self-isolation support.
One-fifth (21 percent) of all applications for test and tracking support were made by the self-employed, the research has revealed.
Requests for freedom of information, submitted to local authorities and government departments, revealed that 57 per cent of standalone applications for the £ 500 Test and Trace Support Payment were rejected.
Data suggest that individuals in the first year of being self-employed were more likely to fall through the cracks.
Self-employed workers in the United Kingdom are not entitled to statutory sickness benefit (SSP), which is paid directly to employers, leaving them to rely on savings or other means to generate money.
And the number of self-employed workers claiming Universal Credit increased by 270 per cent from March 2020 to October 2021, by more than £ 24m. of support for isolation denied them.
Angela Rayner, deputy director of Labor, said: “People should never be in a position to choose between their health or putting food on the table. Throughout the pandemic, this government has failed to set sickness benefits. Their passivity and chaos hurt working people. “
She said Labor was “pro-business [and] pro-worker ”and the party’s policy is to make SPP accessible to all workers, from day one.
Kate Dearden, Head of Research at The Community Union, said: “Our findings are incredibly worrying and provide the crucial issue of extending sickness benefits to all.
“The resilience of our society depends on the support given to individuals in times of need. That is why we are calling for sickness benefits for the self-employed.”
A spokesman for the Department of Labor and Pensions said the government had offered “an unprecedented support package to help those who isolate themselves”.
“Self-employed workers who are ill and unable to work should check their eligibility for the Employment Support Allowance, and during the pandemic, self-employed workers were entitled to pay from day one, on top of billions of benefits through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. “