Self-employed women are losing out on Government support

Date Posted: Monday 19th April 2021

Self-employed women are less likely than men to benefit from the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) according to new analysis published by the Women’s Budget Group today.

The analysis shows that:

  • By the end of January 2021 only 28.8% of all SEISS claims had been made by women despite women making up 34.8% of self-employed workers. 632,000 self-employed women (28.8%) made SEISS claims totalling just over £1.4 billion by January 2021.
  • This compares with 1,557,000 claims made by men, totalling nearly £4.8 billion.
  • Only 60% of eligible women claimed SEISS, compared to 68% of eligible men.
  • Women on average claimed £2,200 SEISS, while men claimed on average £3,300. The difference can be explained by self-employed women’s generally lower earnings compared to self-employed men.

This analysis was carried out by the Local Data Project led by the Women’s Budget Group. The analysis is part of wider research looking at the gender differences nationally and locally in accessing Coronavirus government support, including both SEISS and  the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (known as furlough). Read the full briefing here

Young women aged 18-25 are the largest group to be furloughed by age and gender. 24% of young women workers (425,300) have been furloughed compared to 20% of young men (345,100). For young women under the age of 18, 40% have been furloughed compared to 30% of young men.

Overall data shows that women are more likely than men to have been furloughed. 52.1% of women have been furloughed despite women only making up  47.3% of the overall UK workforce. By the end of February 2021, 2,337,900 women were furloughed compared  to 2,144,700 men.

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the UK Women’s Budget Group said:

“Our gendered analysis of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) highlights how the government has failed to consider the employment situation for women. The IFS finds that approximately 1.3 million people will be ineligible for SEISS because less than half their income comes from self-employment. As the majority of self-employed women are part-time, this has put them at greater risk of being excluded from the Government’s self-employed support package.

Overall, our analysis finds that women in general and young women in particular have been furloughed at higher levels which places them at greater risk of redundancy once the furlough scheme ends in September. But the Government’s plans to ‘build back better’ focus largely on construction projects, which are more likely to create jobs for men. Our work has shown that investment in care could create nearly three times as many jobs as the same amount of money invested in construction. A care-led recovery would create more jobs for men, and many more for women, who are at greater risk of redundancy.”

For further information, please contact:

Thaira Mhearban: / 077366 58951/ Communications Officer

About Women’s Budget Group

The UK Women’s Budget Group is an independent and not-for-profit organisation whose aims are to promote a gender equal economy through conducting in depth analysis of the impact of policy on women. This analysis was undertaken as part of the Local Data Project which is run by Women’s Budget Group.

The Local Data Project will work to build and strengthen the capacity of local organisations who campaign for women’s equality to access and use equality data in their advocacy and campaign work. Find out more about the project here.