Coronavirus  

Government set to pay 80% of self-employed income

Government set to pay 80% of self-employed income

The government looks set to include the self-employed in its Covid-19 emergency measures with proposals to cover up to 80 per cent of earnings in this demographic during the pandemic. 

An amendment added to the Coronavirus Bill proposes statutory self-employment pay which would cover the lower of £2,917 or 80 per cent of a self-employed person's monthly earnings, averaged over the last three years. 

The proposals also cover freelancers, with reports the Chancellor is set to confirm the announcements tomorrow (March 25).

Last week Rishi Sunak announced the government would cover 80 per cent of at-risk employees' salaries for three months, as part of an expansive series of measures aimed at supporting the UK economy during the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Sunak labelled the move as "unprecedented in the history of the British state", but the government faced criticism over the self-employed being left out of the measures. 

Answering questions from MPs about the self-employed in the House of Commons today, Mr Sunak said: "I will be making further announcements and progress on these measures.

"We've been looking at this in intense detail over the past week. We're in dialogue with the key stakeholder groups.

"There are genuine practical reasons why it is complicated to design an analogous scheme to the one we have for employed workers, but we absolutely understand the situation facing self-employed workers and we will find a way to support them, we just need to be confident that can be done in a way which is deliverable and fair to the majority of British workers."

Dave Chaplin, chief executive of ContractorCalculator, said: "Freelancers and contractors have had their lives and livelihoods turned upside down by Covid-19 so the suggested amendment tabled for the bill to provide financial support is a welcome move. 

"The UK economy relies on freelance talent to help businesses to thrive and so it is right and proper that they should be helped not penalised in these unprecedented circumstances.   

"When the nation gets back on its feet it will be the freelancers and contractors that businesses will be turning to once again, so it is vital they are given a financial lifeline now so that they can get through the turmoil this crisis has inflicted on all our lives."

rachel.mortimer@ft.com and imogen.tew@ft.com

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