UK announces measures to help self-employed

An empty Leicester Square in central London on March 24, 2020 in London. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work.

Ollie Millington

The U.K. government has announced emergency measures to help self-employed people, after facing intensifying pressure to match the financial aid offered to other workers.

Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said the government would pay self-employed people a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years. The grant will be open to people with trading profits of up to £50,000 ($60,800).

He announced details of the income support scheme after conceding many workers were still “deeply anxious about the support available for them.”

“To you, I say this, you have not been forgotten. We will not let you behind. We all stand together,” Sunak said in a press conference.

Pressure had grown on the government to act to help self-employed people, many of whom have seen their work dry up amid a national lockdown, due to the coronavirus outbreak, that has restricted social gathering to no more than two people, confined many people to their homes and shut down all non-essential businesses.

Facing the prospect of mass lay-offs because of the economic standstill caused by the virus, Sunak announced last week that the government would pay up to 80% of the wages (to a maximum of £2,500 a month, around $3,000) of those workers kept on by employers, in a bid to stop them making redundancies.

As of Thursday, the U.K. had reported 9,962 cases of the coronavirus, with 467 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

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