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Physical activity sector leaders welcome help for self-employed – but question delay until June

By Tom Walker    27 Mar 2020
There is an estimated 60,000 self-employed people working in the sport and physical activity sector / Shutterstock

Physical activity sector bodies have welcomed the government's measures to help the UK's self-employed workers during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday (26 March) that those who have suffered a loss in income will be eligible to a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their profits – up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Called the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme, the grant will be available for three months in one lump-sum payment and will start to be paid from the beginning of June.

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

The financial support for the self-employed is broadly in line with company employees, who will receive 80 per cent of their wages subsidised by the government.

The move has been broadly welcomed by physical activity trade bodies – although there are some concerns over the delay in the help being available.

In a joint statement, CIMSPA, ukactive and Community Leisure UK said: "This support will be hugely reassuring for the estimated 60,000 self-employed people working in the sport and physical activity sector.

"A recent survey showed that 95 per cent have already experienced significant financial losses as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with many having little or no financial reserves to fall back on.

"We do, however, have concerns about the delay until June in getting these payments into the hands of self-employed people, many of whom will need immediate financial support."

In the statement, the bodies also said that there remains some confusion over who will be eligible for the grant.

"We also recognise that there are many self-employed people within our sector who will not be eligible for this scheme, especially those who became self-employed within the last 12 months, along with those who are directors of small limited companies.

"CIMSPA, ukactive and Community Leisure UK will continue to work together on behalf of the sector to seek clarity on these issues and will continue to provide our members, and the wider workforce, with as much clarity, advice and support as possible during this challenging time."

Others to have welcomed the financial help for the self-employed include Jean-Claude Vacassin, founder of the Independent Fitness Business Association (IFBA), which represents the independent fitness sector and works with a network of 150 independent clubs and gyms.

"We welcome these new measures to offer the self-employed more financial security going forward," Vacassin said.

He added that the association was opening a helpline for those who are looking for clarity

"There are many anxious PTs, gym owners and fitness professionals out there and we empathise with them.

"Many operate their businesses and services alone and don't have management teams to support them, which is why we are launching a free support line to offer free advice for those who are self employed on the steps they need to take to secure funding and stabilise their business and income over the coming weeks and months.

"This is open to the entire independent sector and you don't need to be a member of the IFBA to benefit from this."

• Those wanting to find out more can get in touch with the IFBA by emailing: [email protected].

Physical activity  self-employed  COVID-19  Coronavirus  pandemic  Rishi Sunak  CIMSPA  ukactive  Community Leisure UK  
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