Chancellor promises help is coming for UKs 5 million self employed workers

Roshi Sunak

Speaking from the Dispatch Box in the House of Commons Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that help for UKs army of self employed workers is coming within days.

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, outlined plans on Friday to pay employees 80% of their salaries, capped at £2,500 a month. However, the self-employed can so far only access £94.25 a week in universal credit benefits and defer their self-assessed tax payments until next year.

Whilst the chancellor was still unable to provide details of what support the government can provide he confirmed that details were only days away.

Treasury officials are understood to be putting together a fresh financial support package for the self-employed after working over the weekend, although they believe it is more important to get the proposed scheme right than rush it out.

Ministers are believed to be grappling with three issues: the technical means of delivering financial help to the self-employed; how the level of support should be calculated; and the need to make sure there is equal treatment for the employed and self-employed.

The former governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, called on ministers to support self-employed people, while warning that the coronavirus crisis posed a more serious threat to the economy than the 2008 financial crash.

King, who led the Bank’s response in 2008, said the government should give self-employed workers the same level of support as employees as a minimum first step. “It’s a good starting point because it would be equivalent to the support that’s being given for paying wages,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.