Rishi Sunak will tomorrow announce an economic relief package to assist Britain’s five million self-employed workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The package comes come a week after Sunak announced a raft of measures to help businesses and workers suffering from the fallout from Covid-19.
Included among the measures was a guarantee to pay 80 per cent of workers’ wages, up to £2,500 a month, who could not go to work because of the coronavirus outbreak and £330bn of government-backed loans to businesses.
However, there have been growing calls in the past week for similar measures for the self-employed, including freelancers and gig economy workers.
With Sunak now set to unveil new measures for this band of employees, what are interested parties calling for in the new package?
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) have called for widescale wage subsidies for the self-employed, like traditional workers were given last week.
The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady called for 80 per cent of wages to be covered by the government.
“Large-scale wage subsidies are the best way to boost household finances, keep businesses running and help our economy bounce back after this crisis,” she said.
“All workers – both employed and self-employed – should have their wages protected.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell also called for 80 per cent wage subsidies for the self-employed to bring them into line with the package announced by Sunak last week.
Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has also thrown his weight behind this idea.
However, this may not be easy for the Treasury to implement.
Sunak said yesterday that it was “incredibly complicated to design an analogous scheme” to what workers received last week.
Boris Johnson added that it was very difficult to calculate wages for the self-employed and that “the complexity of their working arrangements” has made putting a package together difficult.
He said this was why there had been a delay in announcing the new package.
Temporary Income Protection Fund
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), an advocacy group for the self-employed, have laid out its demands for Sunak’s package tomorrow.
The IPSE has called for a “temporary income protection fund”
IPSE economic policy adviser Ryan Barnett said: “IPSE is calling on the government to create a Temporary Income Protection Fund for freelancers and the self-employed. This should provide a temporary, targeted grant to replace the majority of the income of the worst-affected self-employed people.
“We urge it to make sure this is a comprehensive grant that leaves behind no freelancers and contractors who are in need.”
Help already available to the self-employed
Some forms of relief have already been made available to self-employed Britons over the past two weeks.
People who are self-employed and cannot work because they are sick with coronavirus or are self-isolating can claim £94.25 a week through universal credit.
The date at which self-assessment tax payments are due for self-employed workers has also been deferred.
The self-employed also have access to a three-month “mortgage holiday” if they are homeowners and protection