Self-employed among those forced to borrow more money during coronavirus

(Image credit: Pixabay)

New data released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that nearly nine million people across the country have been forced to borrow more money as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures have increased since June, with the proportion that had borrowed £1000 or more rising from 35% in the middle of the year to 45% in December.

According to the findings, self-employed people including freelancers, those in lower income groups and people living in rented accommodation have been among the groups most affected.

The self-employed in particular have faced a prolonged period of uncertainty, with many not able to claim some, or indeed any of the emergency benefits offered by the government as a result of COVID-19. Compounding the issue is the fact that many small business owners have opted to defer their annual tax payments.

Borrowing money

Data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, a weekly update issued by the ONS displayed just how badly affected the self-employed have been by the pandemic.

Compared to employees, self-employed people were more likely to borrow over £1000 in the run up to Christmas. A sizeable 61% had borrowed funds, compared to just 49% of those workers on PAYE.

The ONS said that self-employed people were the group that had noticed the biggest decrease in working hours, and reduced income as a result. Even people who had been able to quality for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) relief were worse off than before the pandemic hit.

In fact, the ONS has found that more than three quarters of self-employed people in the UK have not had any financial support whatsoever from the government’s support scheme for freelance workers. A mere 24.2 of self-employed people had benefitted from the SEISS scheme up to October it said.

Many disabled people have been similarly affected, with 36% having to borrow over £1000 compared to just 13% back in June of last year according to the ONS statistics.

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.