Coronavirus: Chancellor Sunak announces 'unprecedented' measures to support self-employed

Also, there was a need to act - the longer the lockdown, and the longer self-employed people are left at home rather than working, the more this will cost the Government.

Rishi Sunak used the latest coronavirus press conference this afternoon to announce that the self-employed with trading profits below £50,000 would be eligible for a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits up to £2,500 a month.

Some of the business soloists due to be excluded from the grants, which HMRC will not start paying until June, have an average annual income of £200,000, the chancellor claimed.

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. Those who have missed the tax return deadline in January will have four weeks from today to send in their tax return. The grant is expected to last three months.

On Wednesday, leading musicians including trumpeter Alison Balsom and violinist Nicola Benedetti wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister highlighting "the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the lives of 4.8 million freelancers in the UK" and urging the PM to support them.

Former freelancer turned tax expert Ed Molyneux says that - at the least, the chancellor's cash lifeline for the self-employed seems to "unfairly discriminate against new freelancers".

Sarah Coles of Hargreaves Lansdown, said yesterday that despite being welcome, Mr Sunak's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme comes with a "major catch".

As Parliament shut down until April 21 due to the escalating pandemic, Johnson told MPs: "We will do whatever we can to support the self-employed, just as we are putting our arms around every single employed person in this country".

"Even among those who qualify, having to wait possibly until June is likely to cause all kinds of financial headaches". He added that there was a need to tackle bogus self-employment after the crisis.

"My worry is that if people can not get access to the scheme until June it will simply be too late for millions". The scheme does not cover those who have been self-employed for less than a year.

Ex-freelancer Mr Molyneux echoed: "As a nation, we've been traditionally complacent about acknowledging the challenges and sacrifices that many freelancers, contractors and self-employed people face".

"This is a welcome step forward for self-employed and freelance workers across the economy".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed support for small businesses - but what does it mean?

Meanwhile, Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "For many people that have seen their businesses disappear in the blink of an eye, things like statutory sick pay or universal credit just isn't enough".

Latest News