Self-employment grant 'is a great reassurance' says Chorley boutique shop owner

Traders who are eligible for the fourth payment of the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) have today told the Post about the reassurance the grant gives to small businesses.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 9:21 am

And Linda Monk, owner of Freckle Boutique, Heskin, said the announcement of the fourth SEISS payment will help to restock the rails in the shop ahead of reopening in April.

Yesterday Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed his 2021 Budget, announcing he was to be extending the furlough scheme and furthering the support for self-employed workers, with more than 600,000 people – many of whom become self-employed in 2019/20 – now eligible for cash grants.

The SEISS grant allows self-employed people whose business and income had been affected by the pandemic to claim up to 80 per cent of their average monthly profits, capped at £2,500 or a total of £7,500 for the three-month payment.

Linda Monk will use the fourth SEISS payment to help stock her rails before the shop reopens in April

Linda, 52, from Coppull, said: "Owning a ladies clothing store has been difficult because retail has been hit so badly, which is really worrying because we don't know how things are going to go when we can begin properly trading again.

"This grant reduces the worry and takes quite a bit of pressure off my shoulders. It is a massive help because it will help us restock the shop which I am really pleased with, it is a great reassurance.

"It has made me more enthusiastic about the future of my business. Of course, we are still facing a loss at the moment because the grant doesn't cover all of our usual profits, but I still feel supported and pleased with yesterday's announcement."

Those who made a claim for the third grant must have seen their business have a new or continuing impact from the coronavirus crisis between November 1 and January 29, which they must have reasonably believed would cause a significant reduction to profits.

Sole traders are eligible for up to 80 per cent of their monthly profits, capped at 2,500

Linda has been managing her ladies clothing business since 2014 and has so far met the criteria for all of the SEISS grant payments from the government, also praising their 'Help to Grow' scheme that funds training and management courses for smaller traders.

She also made use of the 'Bounce Back' loan offered last year, where business owners were able to borrow up to £50,000 to help support their businesses and the newly announced lockdown grants which supported traders forced to close due to restrictions.

The prolonged closure of her store meant that sales boomed online, a sector that Linda had never explored before the pandemic took hold.

She added: "The Help to Grow scheme is a brilliant opportunity for businesses that would not be able to afford these courses under normal circumstances, which will help them get the skills to continue succeeding in their businesses.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the updates to the scheme in yesterday's Budget

"The pandemic forced us to go online with sales, which is something I had never offered before, but the grant wasn't enough for me to live off. Although we are still running a loss compared to regular foot traffic, the online side has really increased and we would be making nothing without it now.

"For me the loans have been a massive boost for my business. There is only so much money that can be given out to businesses and there has to be a limit. We need to remain optimistic and positive for the future.

"I am hopeful we will open again on April 12 along with other non-essential retailers because every time we get going again, we are forced to close and have the rug pulled from under our feet.

"Small boutiques like myself are thankful to the government for this support but we are really eager just to be able to open again, it is infuriating. We want to get back out there and look to the future."

For the fourth grant, there will now be more than half a million newly self-employed people who may be eligible to claim Government support.

Mr Sunak said: “When the scheme was launched, the newly self-employed couldn’t qualify because they hadn’t all filed a 2019/20 tax return.

“But as the tax return deadline has now passed, I can announce today that, provided they filed a tax return by midnight last night, over 600,000 more people, many of whom only became self-employed last year, can now claim the fourth and fifth grants.”

And Lancashire business chiefs previously urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to throw the county’s battered economy a lifeline in yesterday's Budget.

Geoff Mason, Policy Manager for the Preston-headquartered North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: "Lancashire has already been hit by massive jobs losses and there are fears many businesses will not survive until all restrictions are ended.

"Some High Street names have disappeared in bricks and mortar form and recently St George’s Shopping Centre in Preston went into administration, and it will be May before pubs and restaurants will be able to open properly.

“The £5bn of Restart Grants already announced is support that is to be welcomed, helping the retail and hospitality sectors get through until they can re-open fully.

“It is, however, short-term support and what is needed is a plan covering the rest of 2021 to help re-build business confidence.”

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