Letter to Women and Equalities Select Committee members


Member of Parliament XXXXXX

House of Commons, London



20 May 2020

Dear Women and Equalities Select Committee member 

I am writing to you in your role as a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee about the impact of HMG’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) rules on mothers. 

Under the current guidance, self-employed women cannot exempt periods of maternity leave from the calculation used to work out their average income, which is what the SEISS payments are based upon. This means that women who have taken periods of maternity leave in the tax years, 2016-17, 2017-18 or 2018-19 will receive significantly less financial support than if they had not taken maternity leave, and the amount received will bear no relation to their usual trading profits.


We have received numerous enquiries from mothers affected by this, including some who will now not meet the lower earnings threshold for HMG’s 30 free hours childcare scheme, as a direct consequence of having taken maternity leave in the past four years.


A report by the Association of Independent Professionals and Self Employed, IPSE, shows the self-employed gender pay gap to be 43%. This is only likely to increase unless the rules on SEISS are changed to exempt maternity leave periods.


We are extremely concerned that reducing self-employed women’s incomes even further, and in some cases excluding them from free childcare schemes, will deepen the impact of coronavirus on their businesses and limit their ability to provide for themselves and their families.


 According to our FOI request, approximately 25,000 self-employed mothers claim maternity allowance every year, so we estimate around 75,000 mothers could be affected.


We would be grateful if the committee could investigate this with urgency, as women have already begun applying for SEISS and will soon be applying for their 30 hours free childcare. 


Pregnant Then Screwed have been advised that the decision not to allow mothers to exempt maternity leave from the SEISS calculation may be in breach of HMG’s Public Sector Equality Duty.


Please find the attached parliamentary briefing and case study which we have also sent to the committee clerks.


Yours Sincerely,

Pregnant The Screwed 



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