£94 SSP is no incentive to self isolate against Coronavirus but it has highlighted how out of touch and unfit for purpose our Benefits System is. For years this has gone on largely hidden from public scrutiny as a result of concerted attacks by both the Tory Party and pressure from the right wing press in order to drive down the amount of support given to vulnerable people in the UK. Now, when a time has come, when this System is needed almost universally by all for support it is found to be wanting and outdated and to be offering only a questionable and inadequate level of support.
£94 a week is an inadequate sum that will not encourage people to self isolate against Coronavirus. This level of support and this amount show that our Benefits System is at least 20 years behind the current costs of living and has probably not been updated in all that time. The reality is that it should be offering at least £250 per week as a survival income. It appears that the government could easily afford to be offering that since it has recently announced that it could support workers salaries up to the level of double that amount and more (£2500 is the limit that it announced). Therefore raising SSP to at least 3x it’s current rate does not seem to be an unreasonable demand.
I fall into a high risk category because I have underlying health conditions so I am more at risk in relation to Coronavirus but the current level of SSP is no incentive for me to self isolate. It falls well below an amount of money that I could reasonably afford to manage on. I will therefore be forced to carry on working in a job which actually puts me at an increased risk of contracting Coronavirus because it puts me into daily contact with the public. It forces me to travel in a contained and limited space with close proximity to members of the public. As well as being put at risk in this way the government measures have also reduced my ability to profit from the risks associated with this enterprise. The government have shut all entertainment venues, which would normally provide me with trade and a source of income because they provided me with a source of customers travelling to and from such venues. Now I am being forced to put myself at risk whilst working for amounts of money which fall well below the minimum hourly rate of pay. Let me give you an example, for approximately 2 hours yesterday I had no customers at all so no fares taken. This situation is therefore actually forcing me to work longer hours to make ends meet therefore it is prolonging my exposure to potential harm. However even with these excessively longer hours and the low returns (less than minimum wage) it is still an improvement on the miserable, miserly sum of £94 which this government is offering as an incentive to keep yourself safe and self isolated against Coronavirus.
5 million self employed workers, affected by government introduced measures to deal with Coronavirus, have been abandoned without a lifeline
Also because my employment is classed as self employed I fall into another category that this government has chosen to ignore, isolate and treat separately to other groups being affected by Coronavirus. So far this government have failed to acknowledge that this sector of the economy also needs support to cope with the effects upon their incomes due to the measures that the government have imposed to combat the Coronavirus outbreak. These measures have perhaps had the greatest implications for workers in the self employment sector. For many self employed the results of changes imposed by the government have been devastating. I personally have experienced a drop of 2x thirds of my income. Others have reported the same experience. However the effects on this area of the economy has been largely ignored by the government with no lifeline in sight. Many workers in this sector of the UK ‘s Economy are now working for an hourly rate of pay that works out to be well below minimum wage standards when the drop in earnings is accounted for. This has not been recognised by the government who are still refusing to make any allowances for the self employed or to throw them a lifeline. The self employment sector of the economy is drowning. Thus far the only thing that has been mentioned is Universal Credit or SSP. Again a prehistoric level of SSP of £94 is just a totally unreasonable and unacceptable amount of money to expect that anything other than a mouse to live on. Universal Credit is based not on losses incurred by an individual in is based upon living arrangements: it is designed to provide a very very basic level of survival income unlikely to provide enough support to pay for the retention of assets needed to carry on in business.