MORE than 6,200 people in Swindon accessed £16.7 million in government grants for self-employed workers.

The funding came as part of the second instalment of the self-employment income support scheme which aims to cover earnings lost during June and August as a result of the pandemic.

The first instalment gave out £24.1 million to people in Swindon to cover their March, April and May income.

Self-employed people have had six months of income support during the coronavirus pandemic as the first grant covered up to 80 per cent of their average monthly profits and the second covered up to 70 per cent of that figure.

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “We have many excellent small local businesses here, so I am pleased that the government has supported self-employed workers at this very difficult time, when it has been needed the most.

“In addition to the financial support for self-employed workers, I have been running a 'small local business support campaign' because they are at the heart of our local economy and it is vital that we keep them going strong.

“I have been in touch with many local businesses here in South Swindon throughout this time. I have been promoting the wide range of services they offer locally on my website and social media pages and encouraging people to use them.”

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson added: “The coronavirus outbreak has been an extremely challenging time for businesses, and I have been very pleased to see the government step support to help thousands of self-employed people in Swindon.

"We know the challenges are not over, but I am confident that the government will continue to build on the unprecedented package of support it has already made available.”

New figures show that over 90,000 workers in the south west returned to their jobs part-time in the first month of the flexible furlough scheme.

The scheme, introduced in July, gives businesses the flexibility to bring employees back part-time, with the government paying 80 per cent of their wages for the hours not worked.

It has protected 808,900 jobs in the region since the pandemic began.

By 31 July, 357,500 people were on furlough – 266,900 full-time and 90,600 part-time. It means 44 per cent of those furloughed had returned to work full-time by the end of July.