Finance expert's instant reaction to Chancellor's self-employed support package

Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the Covid-19 support package nearly a week after the Tories had announced an 80 per cent government subsidy for bosses to pay workers while firms temporarily shut down.

"Chambers, along with other business groups, have worked constructively with government to ensure the self-employed receive similar support to those who are employed through PAYE".

The Chancellor noted that the SEISS would be available for at least three months and extended if necessary, and that self-employed would be able to claim and continue to do business.

The Chancellor added: "95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme", which he claimed is "targeted at those who need it most".

To be eligible, individuals must earn more than 50% of their income from being self-employed, have trading profits of less than £50,000 ($61,000), and have a self assessment tax return for 2019.

Sunak is aware that the scheme, drawn up in haste, has its faults. "It is targeted to those who need it the most and crucially it is deliverable". Among them is the length of time it will take for people to get the grant - June at the earliest - the lack of support for those who have only recently become self-employed and the real possibility of fraud.

These include a strengthening of the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, income tax and VAT deferrals, £1 billion more support for renters and access to three-month mortgage holidays.


The government says 80% of gross wages in the private sector, up to £2,500 a month, for those not working and who would otherwise have been laid off will be covered by these grants from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

She also said: "With so numerous self-employed facing a collapse in their earnings the Chancellor is right to act". "We will not let you behind".

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

UNIONS, think tanks and the Labour Party welcomed a belated announcement of relief for the self-employed today - but said questions remained about how rapidly support could be rolled out to hard-pressed workers.

Sunak said the government's overall package of support is "one of the most significant economic interventions in the history of the British state".

The cap of 2,500 pounds per month is the same as that for employees in the package of measures announced previously. Critics said the measures didn't go far enough and left Britain's 5 million self-employed people facing a bleak future.

Stride said his committee had received over 14,000 letters in recent days "mostly on issues relating to self-employment, from people who work in a wide variety of professions, including childminders, taxi drivers and hairdressers".

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