U.K. Chancellor Announces Emergency Measures For Freelancers

Daniel Fowler
March 27, 2020

In the week since that bailout package was announced, the Government has come under increasing pressure to offer similar support for the self-employed.

It includes a taxable grant worth 80 percent of the worker's average monthly profits over last three years.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Rishi Sunak said: "To support those who work for themselves, today I am announcing a new self-employed income support scheme".

Mr Sunak said it would not be possible to save every job and business impacted by the lockdown forced upon the United Kingdom as a result of coronavirus, but stated he hoped the fiscal measures announced over the past fortnight would "alleviate" future hardship. However, Sunak said the new scheme would likely only be up and running by June - leaving the self-employed with a wait of nearly three months before cash comes through.

Government's postponement has reportedly been largely due to difficulties identifying those who need support.

It will be called the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme, and is open to those who were trading in the last financial year, still trading now, and planning to continue doing so this year.

Nimesh Shah of accountants Blick Rothernburg said: "Given that self-employed individuals have been granted an nearly identical package of support to the employed worker, albeit with some restrictions, this could be the precursor opportunity for the Government to end the disparity in the two tax regimes, which it has been wanting to do for some time".

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But he added that self-employed workers will have to last out until mid-June for the scheme to kick in and they must also wait to be contacted by tax authorities.

"We will not be able to protect every single job, or save every single business", Sunak said. "We will not leave you behind".

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business Select Committee of MPs, said the chancellor's announcement would be welcomed by numerous nation's millions of self-employed workers.

U.K. Music, the industry's umbrella organization, welcomed the package as a "vital lifeline" for thousands, but urged the government to provide immediate financial support for those "battling to make ends meet" now.

"Especially as when we get through this and are chipping in together to right the ship afterwards making sure everyone is doing their bit as well".

Sunak said the government's overall package of support is "one of the most significant economic interventions in the history of the British state".

The government says 80% of gross wages in the private sector, up to £2,500 a month, for those not working and who would otherwise have been laid off will be covered by these grants from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Critics said the measures didn't go far enough and left Britain's 5 million self-employed people facing a bleak future.

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