Survey launched to understand impact of COVID-19 on the self-employed

Rishi Sunak

A Yorkshire-based firm of chartered accountants and businesses advisors has launched a nationwide survey in a bid to understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on self-employed individuals.

The online survey developed by Shenward aims to understand how severely affected self-employed individuals have become during the pandemic and the percentage of which won’t qualify for financial support under the self-employment scheme announced March 26th.

Comprising a series of questions relating to income, loss of work, previous revenue, profits, self-employment start date and financial dependents, the survey has been developed in line with the criteria for the newly announced self-employment support scheme.

Respondents will be asked to select an answer that best suits their current position, but will not be asked to disclose their name, email or home address, so that they feel able to provide honest feedback.

Sherad Dewedi, managing partner at Shenward said: “As Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the biggest peacetime economic shock the UK has ever faced.

“The government has done well to introduce a number of financial measures to support individuals during the pandemic, but most of the initial measures announced were aimed at businesses and individual employees.

“However, after many campaigned for support to be introduced for those individuals who are self-employed, on 26 March he announced that a new package would be available in June 2020, which he suggested will offer financial support to around 95% of the self-employed population.

“We instantly recognised that the remaining 5% would be concerned about the lack of financial support and wanted to do something to help campaign for change, so we launched the anonymous survey to find out more.”

Founded in 1989 by Rajeev Dewedi, Shenward is an established and respected firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors based in the heart of Yorkshire, with offices in both Bradford and Leeds.

A multidisciplinary practice, they provide professional support to businesses and individuals both nationally, and internationally, managing a multitude of functions falling under the umbrella of Tax, Business Advice, Audit and Accounts, and HR Payroll.

As a firm, and as individuals, Shenward undertakes a range of activities to support communities both locally and further afield, and enjoy an excellent reputation with public organisations, visionary entrepreneurs, and politicians.

They developed the survey following concerns that many self-employed individuals either wouldn’t meet the criteria set out by the Chancellor, or they wouldn’t receive sufficient financial support due to the way in which income will be reviewed.

The firm believes that by obtaining first-hand knowledge of the impact on self-employed individuals and the percentage of people who won’t qualify for any form of support other than the £94.25 per week Universal Credit, they can develop a case for campaign.

Sherad added: “There’s no denying that the financial measures put in place already are outstanding and the government has responded quickly to the needs of the country, but we fear that more people than initially predicted won’t meet the criteria for support and will be left without sufficient income.

“Our main concern with regards to the self-employment support is that June 2020 is over 3 months away, which is a long time for self-employed individuals who are used to earning a significant living to go without income.

“Furthermore, those who became self-employed after April 2019 do not appear to qualify for self-employed help due to HMRC using 2018/19 tax returns to calculate the payments.

“By collecting the data, we can begin to understand the real impact and reach out to decision-makers with our findings.”

Data collected from the survey will be analysed internally and used to drive a social media campaign focusing specifically on self-employment support, with the potential of presenting the data to decision-makers throughout the UK.

Self-employed individuals, directors, and shareholders across the UK are invited to provide their honest thoughts and feedback via the online survey here before the 14th April 2020