ONE in every five self-employed people in Barnsley ‘left to fend for themselves’ during the pandemic could still be forced out of business, research has revealed.
The study by Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey indicated around 2,800 of Barnsley’s 14,100 self-employed residents are planning to leave their sector due to being excluded from government support.
Mr Healey, who surveyed local business owners last summer and found almost 80 per cent couldn’t access the government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide better funding.
He said: “Since the start of the pandemic, I have been calling on the government to do more to help self-employed workers, but it’s fallen on deaf ears.
“My report presented strong evidence that thousands of self-employed people were being left to fend for themselves with nothing to live on, but the chancellor ignored it."
SEISS, which came into force in May, gave eligible self-employed people grants worth up to 80 per cent of their average monthly profits.
A single grant covering three months of profit was offered to claimants, capped at £7,500.
A second grant for those affected on or after July 14 was offered in August and worth up to 70 per cent of profits, and a third grant, again at 80 per cent, was open to claim until January 29.
The latest government statistics show there were 11,600 businesses eligible for the first wave of funding in Barnsley, of which 9,200 were able to claim an average of £2,800 each – totalling £25.9m, the lowest amount of support in South Yorkshire.
There were 100 fewer eligible for the second grant, and a significant reduction in claims – with 8,400 self-employed people claiming an average of £2,500 each.
By the third grant, 7,900 claims were made but these were for an average of £2,800.
The latest grant was criticised for its stricter criteria – rather than their firm being ‘adversely affected’, traders had to prove their profits would be significantly lower for the whole tax year.
Further grants have been announced for the coming months, but Mr Healey warned without addressing accessibility issues the economy will be further damaged.