More than £6bn has been paid out to more than 2m of the UK’s self-employed workers under the government’s coronavirus support scheme.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the updated figure today and confirmed there would be no change to the scheme’s £50,000 cut-off.
The scheme sees the government hand over a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of monthly profits, up to £2,500 a month, for the nation’s self-employed workers.
Only those who earn more than half of their income from this type of work and have half yearly profits of less than £50,000 are eligible.
Applicants receive three months of wages in one lump sum as a part of the prorgramme.
Labour MP Tracy Babin asked Sunak in the House of Commons today if he would change the scheme to amend the cut off so there is no cliff edge for those earning just over £50,000.
“With regard to moving the cap, I don’t think that would be the right or socially just thing to do,” Sunak said.
“The average incomes of those above the cap are £200,000 and 95 per cent of those who are self-employed in a majority way fall beneath the cap.”
Sunak was also questioned in the House about the extension of the Treasury’s furlough scheme.
The job retention sees the government pay out 80 per cent of wages, up to £2,500 a month, to furloughed employees.
The scheme was extended by the chancellor last week until October, with a promise that no one on the scheme would see a dip in wages.
It will stay the same until the end of July, but will be modified between August and October.
Full details are yet to be revealed, but Sunak said employers will be asked to pay some of the scheme and that employees will be able to work part-time and access the scheme.
It is understood the government will still pay at least 50 per cent of wages through the scheme after July and that all businesses will be asked to contribute, even if they haven’t opened yet.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds questioned Sunak today on if it was true that businesses who are still closed will still be made to contribute to the scheme.
She said it “risks a massive spike in job losses” if true.
Sunak said: “I think it is right both for the economy and indeed for the taxpayer to ask employers to make a contribution to paying the wages of their employees.
“They will have the benefit of flexible furloughing to help offset that and I couldn’t comment now, but I did say details would be provided by the end of the month.”