HALF of self-employed workers in Herefordshire have claimed grants through an extended government scheme to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.

HM Revenue and Customs figures show around 6,400 people in Herefordshire applied to the second round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme between August 17 and the end of the month, 50 percent of those in the area who were eligible to make a claim.

From May 13 to mid-July, eligible self-employed workers could claim a grant worth 80 percent of their average monthly profits for a three-month period, limited to £7,500.

The grant was extended in August, but lowered to 70 percent of profits and capped at £6,570, with applications closing on October 19.

Claims made by people in Herefordshire amounted to £16 million, or £2,500 per person on average.

In the first round of the scheme the average claim was worth £2,900.

Across the UK, just over 2 million people applied in August – a take-up rate of 60 percent, with claims totalling £5.1 billion or £2,500 on average.

But the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed says businesses still "reeling" from the impact of Covid-19 need further support, as a second wave of the virus seems imminent.

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Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, said the scheme has been a vital lifeline for those who are eligible.

"But now is not the time to withdraw support completely," he added. "Self-employed businesses are still reeling from the economic impact of coronavirus and many of them were excluded from SEISS because of its strict eligibility criteria."

The group is calling on the Government to introduce a new round of support to ensure struggling businesses can stay afloat.

Mr Chamberlain added: “As a second wave of coronavirus approaches, local lockdowns and individual quarantining measures are inevitable. Government must do more to support businesses that will be impacted by these restrictions.”

A Treasury spokesman said: "We’re committed to supporting the self-employed, and our Self Employment Income Support Scheme is one of the most generous in the world.

"Those who do not qualify will be able to access our wide range of other support that is helping people who have been affected by coronavirus – including income tax deferrals, £1 billion more support for renters, access to six-month mortgage holidays, business rates relief, grants, and bounce back loans, which provide support that is interest-free for the first 12 months.”