Sole directors hit by debt as still banned from financial schemes

As the UK’s ‘race to open up’ begins, limited company directors are still excluded from benefitting from self-employment support schemes.

Following the lengthy winter lockdown, these directors are “hamstrung from the start”, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has warned. 

Eligible freelancers across the UK are being contacted about the fourth round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), and newly self-employed people are being included in the grants.

However, IPSE warns that while small businesses and other self-employed groups have received targeted support, many limited company directors have ended up accumulating ‘unmanageable’ debt. Their position has been further undermined by the recent changes to the IR35 Working Off-Payroll Rules, or self-employment tax, which took effect on 6 April this year, IPSE said. 

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s director of policy, said that up to a million freelance workers are still excluded from SEISS. “A large proportion of the excluded are sole directors of limited companies,” he said. “Many freelancers in this group have taken a severe financial hit during the pandemic and had to take on unmanageable levels of debt just to get by. Now as the race to open up the economy begins, directors of limited companies are hamstrung compared to the other freelancers and small companies who have received targeted support.

“We urge the government to look again at this vital 700,000-plus sector of the workforce and adopt measures to level the playing field for them,” Chamberlain said. 

He suggested that reintroducing the Job Retention Bonus scheme would benefit “many in this group”.

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