About 80,000 self-employed workers could find it difficult to continue with their activity and their businesses if the Government finally withdraws the social shield articulated by the Executive with the outbreak of the pandemic for the group of self-employed workers. Specifically, they are those that despite the reactivation of the economy as of the summer and the end of the restrictions have not yet been able to reach levels of activity similar to those before the health crisis.
The Ministry of Social Security transferred this week a first proposal for the extension of the extraordinary cessation of activity until October 31 , and that would end from that moment, leaving the cessation benefit in its original terms, whose function is similar to that of unemployment of the workers of the general regime.
However, as the entities representing the collective warn, there are thousands of jobs that have not returned to pre-crisis billing levels, so the withdrawal of the so-called social shield would lead these freelancers to the brink of closure.
“There are six days until the cessation of activity expires and the pressure that thousands of freelancers continue to suffer at the moment for causes related to Covid, together with the uncertainty about the continuity of benefits, is becoming a real drama for those self-employed workers who still continue with their activities with turnover volumes lower than 70% compared to September 2019, “says the president of UPTA, Eduardo Abad.
Among them, the organization cites self-employed showmen, musicians, tour guides and studio photographers and other workers related to leisure and entertainment. In sum, UPTA estimates that 80,000 self-employed will be left without benefits if Social Security does not renew the extraordinary activity cessation in the excluded cases.
The organization estimates an average of 74 million euros what it would cost to extend this benefit until January 31, going from the current 225,000 favorable requests to a maximum of 80,000.
Not surprisingly, the Government is hiding behind the latent economic recovery to begin the withdrawal of the specific protection measures approved a year and a half ago. Specifically, recalled the minister of the branch, José Luis Escrivá, this week after reporting the biweekly evolution of the Social Security affiliation in September, this month the Challenge will have gained 5,403 workers.
In addition, of the almost 1.5 million workers who received this aid in the month after the confinement, a year and a half later it has been reduced to 225,973 beneficiaries as of September as a result of the gradual withdrawal of restrictions. As pointed out by the Ministry of Social Security, this figure is less than half that three months ago and 81% less than in April of this year, before summer.
The hospitality industry leads the reactivation
Apart from the demands of the self-employed group for the maintenance of extraordinary aid due to the pandemic for sectors still affected by the crisis, the economic improvement of the group can be seen in the level of benefits paid by Social Security and which has been reduced significantly during the summer period. Specifically, a strong upturn in activity was observed in the hospitality sector, which led the fall in the number of self-employed persons subject to aid: 41% less in mid-September compared to the level registered on June 1.
The same occurs with artistic activities that have been able to resume their routine with the fall of restrictions and the increase in capacity during the summer with the advance of vaccination in Spain. In the last three and a half months, 18.3% fewer workers benefited from aid in this area.
It should be remembered that if in the month of May there were up to 533,960 self-employed on extraordinary layoffs, in mid-September this figure was reduced to 226,253, that is, less than half.
In addition, according to Social Security data, the current X-ray of benefits shows that 58% of all aid is in the sectors of retail trade (43,712 beneficiaries), food and beverages (37,189 beneficiaries), land transport ( 32,717 beneficiaries) and other personal services, where still 17,622 freelancers receive the benefit.
In the same way, if we observe the territorial distribution of this extraordinary termination, in the last month the highest number of benefits for the self-employed have been registered in the provinces of Madrid (31,418 self-employed), Barcelona (28,186 self-employed), Malaga (14,227 workers) and Alicante with 11,610 beneficiaries of this benefit. Thus, these provinces concentrate most of the benefits still in force: 51% of the total.