A MULTI-billion pound rescue package to protect Britain’s five million self-employed workers could be announced as soon as today (Monday).
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing the fresh coronavirus economic bailout amid warnings thousands of sole traders will not survive the crisis.
He had announced on Friday that the Government would cover 80 per cent of employers’ wage bills in a bid to stop mass lay-offs.
But following criticism that the self-employed were not receiving a similar level of support, the Treasury has spent the weekend drawing up a new package.
Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘While we understand the complexity involved, there are five million self-employed people who need help similar in scale and scope to that put in place for larger firms in recent days.
“We will work closely with ministers to find a way to deliver support to self-employed people and to ensure that the measures announced for larger businesses make it through quickly to the front line.’
CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said the Chancellor’s rescue package last week had saved millions of jobs.
But she contrasted his pledge to provide 80 per cent of employees’ wages – up to £2,500 per month – with the support given to the self-employed, who were told to claim Universal Credit or statutory sick pay at a rate of £94 per week.
On Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, Dame Carolyn said it was ‘not enough for the self-employed to live on’.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘It is operationally very difficult to create a scheme akin to [the bailout] for the self-employed but we are reviewing this. If there are further steps we need to do, we will take them.’
One of the suggestions is to copy Norway, where the government will pay self-employed workers grants of 80 per cent of their average income over the past three years.