Self isolating employees from the UK’s fintech sector have developed a tool to support self-employed workers during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
An estimated five million people in the UK are self-employed, and many face disruption to their livelihood as the UK goes into lockdown.
On Friday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government would pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month of those who cannot currently work due to the pandemic, but this was not guaranteed for self-employed workers. Many have said that they £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay they are entitled to is not enough to live on, with the government under pressure to offer more support.
Over the weekend employees from a range of fintech companies, including Credit Kudos, Fronted, 11:FS, Coconut, Capital on Tap, Mazuma, SeedLegals and TrueLayer, built a proof of concept designed to allow self-employed workers to generate a self-declaration of loss of income due to coronavirus using a simple web form. The proof-of-concept was designed while members of the team were themselves self isolating.
Through Open Banking, which allows third parties access to individuals banking data if given permission, the service then collects historic banking data from the last 12 months as evidence of past income and potential loss of income in the future.
The Python web application, which is running on Google Cloud, interacts with the Credit Kudos API which applies a number of pattern recognition algorithms to an individual’s banking data to work out key income figures.
Helping the self-employed during the coronavirus outbreak
Freddy Kelly, Founder and CEO of Credit Kudos said:
“The Covid Credit team came together as a group to design a concept that verifies the income trend of self-employed workers. The process features self-certification combined with impartially retrieved banking data to deliver a comprehensive view of someone’s income. In this way, we hope, the government may be able to assess the self-employed in the same way that they can the full-time employed. Additionally, the project has been created in open source so that it is simple to use and can be rapidly adopted by HM Government.”
The group hopes this could not only reduce the administrative burden on the civil service and banking sector, but also help small businesses and self-employed individuals, which generate £275bn for the UK economy, to lessen disruption during the ongoing uncertainty.
In a statement, the group said that ensuring businesses “not only survive, but thrive”, is critical to the UK economy and is hoping to share the tool with a wide audience following a trial with a small group of self-employed people in the coming days.
Simon Taylor, Co-founder of 11:FS comments: “The government is working incredibly hard to support UK business at such an unprecedented time. We believe Covid Credit can provide a crucial piece of this complex puzzle, in identifying and validating the needs of self-employed people and businesses affected by COVID-19.
“The opportunity to assist our government in supporting 5 million businesses is enormous, and we believe by sharing our leading-edge collective expertise and knowledge in developing products and services underpinned by open banking, we can play a part in delivering a life-changing service for these businesses banks and the civil service.”
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The group currently engaging with stakeholders such as HMT, HMRC and the FCA in a bid to move into a beta testing and a wider roll-out.