Last week, the Chancellor pledged a number of measures to help businesses and PAYE earners through the pandemic, but the Government has not yet announced adequate support for self-employed and freelance workers.
While the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been established to help businesses pay up to 80% of their employees’ wages over the coming weeks, this scheme has not been extended to self-employed workers. So far, the only support the Government has announced for self-employed and freelance workers is that they can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees and the option to defer tax self-assessment payments by one year.
I do not believe that these measures make up for the current situation facing self-employed people, as many are already losing their livelihoods as business collapses and bookings are cancelled. There are 5 million self-employed people in the UK and I know that the government’s lack of support will be a serious concern for many who are losing work as a result of the virus.
Labour are therefore calling on the Government to include self-employed workers in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with average earnings calculated over the last 1-5 years. Labour also believe that, as the UK currently pays one of the lowest rates of statutory sick pay in Europe, this should be increased to at least the living wage and an equivalent should be introduced for self-employed workers.
You can access up to date information on support for self-employed workers here.