24/03/2020 by Andrew Brealey 0 Comments
Coronavirus support for self-employed workers coming this week!
Coronavirus support for self-employed workers coming this week as Rishi Sunak draws up plans. Self-employed workers must wait several more days for Government support as the Treasury works on a package of help for those who face losing their livelihoods as a result of coronavirus.
Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure to ensure that the self-employed are not financially wiped out by the recession which is expected to follow the Covid-19 epidemic Conservative MPs have called on the Chancellor to act "urgently" while a union has launched a lawsuit against the Government for failing to give the self-employed the same protection as those with a full-time job.
The Treasury is hoping to announce what measures it will take later this week but the work has been delayed by the complexities of getting support to the self-employed, which is trickier than simply refunding cash via Paye as can be done with employed workers.
'Kicking the tyres'
Mr Sunak is "kicking the tyres " on a number of possible options, a source said. A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: "We understand the difficult position the self-employed are in.
"We have always said we will go further where we can and are actively considering further steps. We appreciate the urgency of the situation and officials are working around the clock to find a well-targeted support package."
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, former Business Secretary Greg Clark said that the Chancellor's wage support for workers could have "saved more jobs than any of his predecessors". But he added that Mr Sunak should "urgently come back to this house" with "a comparable package on the self-employed whose businesses are crucial to every constituency in this country".
Labour has also demanded a system of wage support for the self-employed, with the Government picking up part of their usual pay packet, while Frances O'Grady of the Trades Union Congress said: "Without more action many won’t be able to meet basic living costs."
The IWGB union is taking the Government to court, arguing that its actions discriminate against freelancers and those in the gig economy. General secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: "We cannot stand by while our members are exposed to unnecessary risk or driven into destitution."
Last week Mr Sunak said the Treasury would subsidise the wage bills of firms which would otherwise have to lay off their employees due to the economic crash. By contrast, self-employed workers can no longer support themselves must apply for universal credit. The standard UC allowance is £409.89 per month after it was raised by the Chancellor, although some claimants can get more depending on factors such as whether they have children.
One option for Mr Sunak would be to make the universal credit system more generous, bringing the money paid out to the self-employed closer to the level which is given to employees. Another would be using the tax system to funnel money to freelancers, but that could take too long to keep them solvent.