Coronavirus Self-Employed Update
Many self employed constituents have expressed concern to me about their situations, only some of which are dealt with by the newly announced arrangements the Chancellor set out yesterday evening.
Measures being put into place are as follows:
• Self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. • The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. • To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.
It is absolutely welcome to have clarity on what is on offer, and this announcement enables people to begin to make plans. However, there are a number of concerns, the first of which is the timing, with payments expected from June leaving people in significant financial difficulty between now and then.
Whilst having no option but to wait for months, they are also being asked to apply for Universal Credit which continues to have a five week wait. This is unacceptable and people will struggle.
In addition, the measures fail to match the Prime Minister’s pledge to deliver parity with the support announced earlier for employees.
The Resolution Foundation estimates that one in three people in self-employment, a total of 1.7 million, are at risk of losing their income – including around 330,000 in Scotland. The UK government should use the tax and welfare system to provide a guaranteed income for everyone, and bring forward emergency Universal Basic Income – including increasing UK Statutory Sick Pay to the EU national average, including self-employed people in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and strengthening welfare protections by increasing Child Benefit and making Universal Credit more flexible.