Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new set of financial measures from the Treasury aimed at helping British workers cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Chancellor last week set out 80 percent wage subsidies for employees, and the Treasury spent the past week working on policies to offer support to the estimated five million self-employed and freelancers facing disruptions. Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Thursday, Mr Sunak said: “You have not been forgotten, we will not let you behind, we all stand together.
“To support those who work for themselves, today I’m announcing a new self-employed income support scheme.
“The Government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80 percent of their average monthly profit over the last three years up to £2,500 a month.”
The Chancellor continued: “This scheme will be open to people across the UK for at least three months, and I will extend it for longer if necessary.
“You’ll be able to claim these grants and continue to do business.
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“And we are covering the same amount of income for a self-employed person as we are for furloughed employees, who also receive a grant worth 80 percent.”
Mr Sunak highlighted the unprecedented move, pointing out the scheme the Treasury devised to help the self-employed is among the most generous available in the world.
He added: “That’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.
“Providing such support to the self-employed has been difficult to do in practice, and the self-employed are a diverse population with some people earning significant profits. So I have taken steps to make this scheme deliverable and fair.”
The new measures were welcomed after weeks of uncertainty over the protection available to the self-employed and freelancers.
Rhys Wyborn, employment partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: “The Chancellor has finally done what the UK’s self-employed business community has been crying out for.
“It was touch and go when the emergency Coronavirus Bill passed through Parliament on Wednesday, without any additional help for the self-employed, however the Chancellor has stepped up and recognised that more support is needed.
“Time will tell as to whether these measures are enough to support self-employed workers during this unprecedented time and many will be watching closely as further details emerge around how to claim the financial aid. However, those who are still unsure about what the new package means for them should consider professional advice.
However the Government has been urged to implement the new policies as quickly as possible to help those already suffering from loss of income to ensure they are able to apply to the scheme.
John Ellmore, director of KnowYourMoney.co.uk, praised the Treasury for their “admirable” efforts to help workers across Britain but insisted clear communication will be key in the coming weeks.
Mr Ellmore said: “Many freelancers and self-employed people will already be seeing their finances stretched to breaking point.
“So, the government must fast track the implementation of this policy.
“Ensuring the clear communication of exactly who is eligible for this support, and how they can access it will be vital. Otherwise, many people’s finances might struggle to bounce back.”