Nearly two-thirds of self-employed workers in Southampton have claimed grants through an extended government scheme to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.

But the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed says businesses still "reeling" from the impact of Covid-19 need further support, as a second wave of the virus seems imminent.

HM Revenue and Customs figures show around 8,000 people in Southampton applied to the second round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) between August 17 and the end of the month.

That was 63% of those in the area who were eligible to make a claim.

From May 13 to mid-July, eligible self-employed workers could claim a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits for a three-month period, limited to £7,500.

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

Claims made by people in Southampton amounted to £21.3 million, or £2,600 per person on average.

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

Construction workers made the largest number of claims across the South East (102,800) and the most common age group for applicants was 45-54 (74,200). This pattern was repeated across the UK.

They were among 292,000 seeking support – 58% of those eligible across the region, which saw an average claim of £2,700.

Across the UK, just over 2 million people applied in August – a take-up rate of 60%, with claims totalling £5.1 billion or £2,500 on average.

Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, said the scheme has been a vital lifeline for those who are eligible.

"But now is not the time to withdraw support completely," he added. "Self-employed businesses are still reeling from the economic impact of coronavirus and many of them were excluded from SEISS because of its strict eligibility criteria."

The group is calling on the Government to introduce a new round of support to ensure struggling businesses can stay afloat.

Mr Chamberlain added: “As a second wave of coronavirus approaches, local lockdowns and individual quarantining measures are inevitable. Government must do more to support businesses that will be impacted by these restrictions.”

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."