A CONCERNED councillor says there is a “real threat to employment” after it was revealed six in ten self-employed workers in Tendring and Colchester have claimed grants to help them survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to HM Revenue and Customs figures, about 4,900 people in the Tendring and 6,000 people in Colchester applied to the second round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme between August 17 and the end of the month.

From May 13 to mid-July, eligible self-employed workers could claim a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits for a three-month period which was capped at £7,500.

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

Claims made by people in Tendring amounted to £12.8 million, or £2,600 per person on average.

In Colchester, claims amounted to £16.7 million.

In the first round of the scheme the average claim was worth £3,000.

Ivan Henderson, who is an Essex County councillor for Harwich, said: “There is a real threat to jobs and employment in the area.

“We cannot afford more unemployment in north Essex.

“For everyone who has a business going under, there is a family struggling because of it.”

Mr Henderson, who is also a former Harwich MP and a district councillor, said the Government needs to do whatever it can do to change the current statistic for the better.

He added: “We need to keep people’s heads above water during these difficult times.”

Mr Henderson said he is also concerned that future generations will be the worst impacted by unemployment.

“Young people need to have a future and if we don’t save these businesses they won’t have a future,” he added.

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.”