12 June 2020




Self-employed mothers threaten to sue UK Government over COVID-19 support scheme

Self-employed mothers have threatened to sue the UK Government and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for discriminating against women regarding the COVID-19 income support scheme available to freelancers.

Pregnant Then Screwed notes that 70,000 women have been left with less under the income support scheme after their maternity leave was counted against them. The scheme allows struggling freelancers to claim grants of up to £7,500 to cover up to 80% of earnings for lost income between March and June as a result of the pandemic. Grants are based on the average profits over three years, but they do not discount maternity leave. The effect is that women who have taken time off to have children since April 2016 are left significantly worse off.

Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, said the Chancellor had chosen to ignore freelancers and failed to consider the disproportionately negative impact on vulnerable new mothers:

Rishi Sunak has been questioned on this in Parliament, but he continues to ignore the problem. We have spoken to so many women about this topic, they are angry, they are in financial hardship and they are struggling to understand why they aren’t being listened to”.

The Chancellor recently announced that the scheme would be extended, allowing freelancers to claim a second round of grants. However, maternity leave taken in the last three years will still be factored in to the calculations.

Lawyers involved in the matter claim that the case violates equality laws, including rights provided for by the European Convention on Human Rights. Pregnant Then Screwed have written to the Treasury threatening legal action if the system is not reformed, allowing the Chancellor 7 days to respond. Further updates are expected in due course.

Source: The Telegraph; Pregnant Then Screwed

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