Published: Thu, March 26, 2020
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Coronavirus: What Is The UK Government Doing To Help Self-Employed People?

Coronavirus: What Is The UK Government Doing To Help Self-Employed People?

A self-employed person with a non-working partner and two children living in the social rented sector can receive welfare support of up to £1,800 ($2184) a month.

People writing to the government to demand a package for the self-employed included the heads of U.K. terrestrial broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and the U.K. chief of ViacomCBS that owns Channel 5; a group of eminent economists from around the world; a U.K. department for digital, culture, media and sport committee; and a collective of leading musicians including Alison Balsom, Nicola Benedetti, Sarah Connolly and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme. In order to help those who have not yet filed their 2019 tax return, Sunak says the government has extended the deadline for tax returns by four weeks from now (26 March) so as many people as possible can benefit from the scheme.

Self-employed people must wait until June to get 80% of their earnings covered by the state, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month for three months, in response to the coronavirus crisis.

"While we welcome the support package offered this afternoon by the Chancellor, we would be interested to hear Government's reasoning for excluding self-employed earning above £50,000 from the scheme", comments ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin.

"Some people want to carry on working but others are anxious as it's hard to be more than two metres away from someone on a building site, and you're passing a lot of stuff between you".

Providing such unprecedented support for self-employed people has been hard to do in practice.

Why has it taken so long to help self-employed people?

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There are more than five million self-employed people in the United Kingdom, earning an average of £781 a month.

Those with an immediate need for finances can access Universal Credit or a business interruption loan.

And we've also changed the welfare system so that self-employed people can now access Universal Credit in full.

Mr Sunak described the scheme as "deliverable and fair".

As we've developed the scheme, I'm grateful for the conversations I've had with the Federation of Small Businesses, the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, and a range of trade unions, including the Trades Union Congress.

"It would cost nothing for Government to align the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with use of HMRC's Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool, which aims to fairly pick out the third of freelancers who are "deemed employees".

"Whilst understandable, this support might have come too late for some".

Despite these extraordinary steps, there will be challenging times ahead.

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