IPSE: 341% increase in self-employed on Universal Credit shows “fallback lifeline” must not be taken away

IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has revealed that there has been a 341 per cent increase in the number of self-employed people on Universal Credit since 2019.

The previously unpublished data, which IPSE extracted from the ONS Labour Force Survey, showed that the total number of self-employed people on Universal Credit increased from 46,800 in 2019 to 206,200 this year.

IPSE has argued a key factor in the increase was the government’s suspension of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF), which previously hindered or prevented many self-employed from accessing Universal Credit because of their fluctuating incomes. The MIF suspension, however, is due to end on 12th November.

IPSE has written a letter to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey calling for the suspension of MIF to be extended beyond 12th November to continue to support thousands of self-employed people and their families.  

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: “The massive increase in the number of self-employed people accessing Universal Credit reflects the financial devastation brought on the sector by the pandemic – and just how many self-employed were excluded from the more generous Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

“By suspending the Minimum Income Floor and opening up Universal Credit to them, the government gave these excluded and often desperately struggling self-employed people at least some support.

“If the Minimum Income Floor comes into effect again on 12th November, however, hundreds of thousands of self-employed could take a sudden drastic and unsupportable financial hit. That is why we have written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions calling on her to urgently extend the suspension.

“Coronavirus has undermined thousands of self-employed businesses. For many, Universal Credit is their fallback financial lifeline: it must not be taken away now.”

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