Self-employed women in Bedford claim less than men through support scheme

It comes as Chancellor pledges billions of pounds of extra help

Friday, 23rd October 2020, 2:23 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd October 2020, 2:28 pm

Self-employed women in Bedford claimed much less on average through the Government's coronavirus support scheme than men, new figures reveal.

It comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledges billions of pounds of extra help for the self-employed through a new round of grants for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

But with women across the UK claiming less than three-quarters the amount of their male counterparts, the Women's Equality Party said the move is "too little, too late" for many of the poorest women.

Just 60 per cent of eligible women applied to the scheme in Bedford

HM Revenue and Customs figures show the average amount claimed by female self-employed workers in Bedford through the SEISS was £2,000 by the end of September – compared to £2,900 for men.

Just 60 per cent of eligible women applied to the scheme, meaning the take-up rate for eligible men was much higher (69 per cent).

At this time, eligible self-employed workers could claim a grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly profits for a three-month period, limited to £6,750.

With these grants having closed on October 19, the next round of support for November to January was supposed to cover 20 per cent of profits, with a maximum payout of £1,875.

But the Chancellor increased this to 40 per cent (up to £3,750), amounting to a potential further £3.1billion of support to the self-employed, with a further grant to follow covering February to April.

Mr Sunak said: “These changes mean that our support will reach many more people and protect many more jobs.

“I know that the introduction of further restrictions has left many people worried for themselves, their families and communities."

The Women's Equality Party welcomed the increased support for the self-employed, but said that for many of the poorest women it is "too little, too late".

Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, deputy leader of the party, said: “We have consistently warned Government of the huge gender pay gap for self-employed workers that sees women earning nearly a third less than men.

"They were always going to be hit hardest by this crisis. But the Chancellor made no effort to factor this into his scheme and many female-owned businesses, such as childminders, have since gone under because of delayed payments and insufficient support."

Separate figures for the Job Retention Scheme show 9 per cent of eligible women in Bedford were furloughed at the end of August – the same take-up rate as men.