To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for self-employed taxi drivers who have been told by NHS England to self-isolate due to underlying health reasons and who have been told that they do not qualify for bounce back loans because they do not have business bank accounts.
The government is committed to supporting self-employed individuals through any period in which they have to self-isolate. Self-employed individuals may be eligible for “new style” Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they are incapable of work due to Covid-19, including those who are required to self-isolate according to Government guidance. We have made it easier for people to claim new style ESA by removing the seven-day waiting period which means people can get support from day one. If they are on a low-income, they may also be entitled to a £500 self-isolation payment.
Individuals who are self-isolating can also access the wider support which the government has made available to self-employed people. In addition to bounce back loans, self-employed individuals may be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which remains open for applications and has recently been extended. The SEISS Grant Extension will last for 6 months, from November 2020 to April 2021.
This support for the self-employed is in addition to a comprehensive welfare offer: according to OBR estimates, the government has injected a further £9.3bn into the welfare system to support individuals who are unable to work or on a low income, including the self-employed. For those on low incomes, the government has relaxed the UC minimum income floor for all self-employed claimants.
The Government launched Bounce Back Loans on 4th May 2020 to ensure that the smallest businesses can access loans of up to £50,000 in a matter of days. However, decisions regarding which products, like business bank accounts, to offer remain at the discretion of lenders, and the Government does not intervene in these decisions.