Four million self-employed and zero-hours workers 'left high and dry' amid pandemic

Nearly four million people have been excluded from income replacement schemes launched to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis, a new study suggests.

Nearly four million people have been excluded from income replacement schemes launched to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Some 3.8 million adults in Britain have lost earnings as a direct result of the pandemic and have not been either furloughed or able to get help from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Nor are they claiming universal credit.

The data comes from a YouGov survey commissioned by Standard Life Foundation and analysed by a team from the Personal Finance Research Centre a the University of Bristol.

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Of these excluded people, 1.8 million have lost a third or more of their total household income. In addition of all of those exclude nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) have struggled to pay bills.

About 1.1 million have found it a challenge paying for food and other day-to-day essentials and a similar number have borrowed using overdrafts or credit cards to pay for food and basic items.

Half of those excluded have ceased to earn an income, and half are on reduced earnings/income but receiving no additional support from furlough, the SEISS or universal credit. One-third (35 per cent) were contract or agency workers, on zero hours contracts or obtained work through online platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo – either as an employee or self-employed.

Mubin Haq, the chief executive of Standard Life Foundation, said: “At the start of the pandemic the Chancellor promised workers they would be supported.

“Millions have but far too many, who have worked hard and paid their taxes, have been left high and dry. Too many are struggling to pay for food and everyday essentials.

“The system is full of cliff edges. No help for the self-employed who have earned more than £50,000 per year, but full support for those who earned just £1 less. And no support from the self-employment income support scheme for those who don’t earn a majority of their income from self-employment.

“It’s not too late for the government to sort out this situation. It’s complicated but that does not mean more cannot be done to help those excluded.”

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