More than 2 million self-employed apply for virus grant

More than two million self-employed people have applied for government’s special coronavirus grant scheme.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the House Of Commons that the value of claims received so far is more than £6 million.

Falling through the cracks

The Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was launched following criticism that self-employed people were ‘falling through the cracks’ in the government’s other support schemes.

Though it operates in a similar way to the furlough schemes it is a grant rather than a loan and does not need to be repaid. They are calculated at 80% of the average monthly profit and are capped at £7,500.

Single payment

The money is received in a single payment, covering three months, and though temporary it is possible it may be extended as the furlough scheme has.

The scheme is run by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and they have invited 3.5 million separate businesses to apply.

Latest figures show more than half of them have done so.

Problems

While SEISS has been a success so far there are still complaints being made about problems with the other loan schemes available, including the Bounce Back loans for smaller businesses where administrative delays mean that some businesses looking for emergency support are still not receiving it.

Hundreds of thousands of applications have been approved, but the BBC has received a string of complaints that customers of leading banks like Barclays, Santander and HSBC have not been able to get their money.

Complained

Some businesses complained they had to wait for hours on the phone, trying to get their loan started.

Others reported problems with having two signatories on their account or that their personal details had been wrongly entered.

One woman running a vehicle hire business applied to Santander for a Bounce Back loan the day after they were made available and is still waiting for a reply.

Working hard

Barclays said 95% of customers have received their funds and they are ‘working hard to help customers who have fallen through the cracks’.

Santander said: “While most applications have been processed quickly and smoothly, some are more complicated and we are working through these as quickly as we can.”

Successful

A government spokesman said the Bounce Back loan scheme had been very successful with 270,000 worth £8 billion already approved.

He said: “Millions has already landed in people’s accounts and lenders are working hard to process and approve all applications as quickly as possible.

“All lenders are welcome to apply to the scheme, and we are working closely with the banks to ensure firms get the finance they need.”