Statement

AOP and BDA email the Chancellor seeking a response to their letter of 3 April over the lack of support for self-employed health workers

Urgent: COVID: support for self-employed health workers

The 22 April email reads: 

Both the Association of Optometrists (AOP) and British Dental Association (BDA) wrote to the Chancellor in early April to raise concerns on behalf of our members who are unable to benefit from the provisions that you have put in place to support employees and self-employed people. We have not received a reply and need urgently to know how the Treasury will respond to the needs we have brought to your attention. Both organisations have many members who are contending with serious financial issues and are anxiously waiting for these to be addressed.

I re-attach the AOP’s letter for your convenience as well as a copy of the more recent letter sent by 101 MPs about the impact on dental surgeries. 
 
To summarise here, these are the groups of workers who are unfairly affected by the way that the provisions have been set up:

  1. Self-employed people who have not been self-employed for long enough to qualify for the scheme but now have no work because of COVID-19. They will receive no support, whereas if they were employed doing the same work they would get 80% of their salary guaranteed up to £2,500 a month

  2. Self-employed people with incomes just above the £50k ceiling. They will receive no support whatever, whereas if they were a furloughed employee, they would get the maximum amount available under the employed scheme

  3. People who have taken a practical decision to route part of their income via dividends. They are being unfairly penalised for that choice, even if they can provide evidence that their dividend income is the result of work rather than unearned investments

  4. Employed people who have just changed jobs or were in the process of changing jobs. Many are unable to take advantage of the furlough option from either their new or their previous employer. The change in the date to 19 March will not in practice assist most people who started new jobs between 28 February and 19 March, because of the additional requirement regarding an RTI submission in respect of payment having been submitted by 19 March.

There is a further group of workers who are losing out. These are people with "portfolio careers" who derive their incomes from both employed and self-employed work. If their self-employed income was less than 50% of their total income during the qualifying period, they are unable to benefit from the support to self-employed people. As an example, someone who derives their income almost equally from self-employment and employment and who has been furloughed from their employed position, could suddenly be attempting to meet their financial obligations and support their families on around 40% of their normal income.

In responding to us about the four groups of workers we originally brought to your attention, we would be grateful to know what you intend to do to address the unequal position of this group of workers.

We look forward to receiving your reply.