Posted on March 21, 2020  
by Noel Guilford

Ignore the newspaper headlines congratulating the Chancellor on a ‘historic rescue package’. I said yesterday – more in hope than expectation – that the government should include measures to help the self-employed, as well as employed workers, in its announcement on Friday.

It singularly failed to do so.

Anyone who is self-employed hearing the promise of ‘unlimited support’ will be left wondering why they have been left out. They will only be able to claim universal credit of £94 per week, equivalent to statutory sick pay, compared with up to £2,500 per month for a laid-off employee. This will do very little to prevent the hardship self-employed individuals will face and will mean that they have to continue working, which for many will be impossible.

One union leader said “The chancellor’s support package for workers will come as a devastating blow to freelance and self-employed workers who needed much more support than they are being given. These workers are looking to the chancellor in desperation for a vital lifeline and he has badly let them down.”

London’s “night czar”, Amy Lamé, said the move “left hundreds of thousands of self-employed night-time workers without a vital safety net”. “The government must urgently rethink its plans,” she said.

How can the government think it is fair when two hard-working people doing exactly the same job and with both with family members to support are treated so differently based on their employment status?

The only reason I can think of is that government has been unable to devise a way of compensating the self-employed. If that is the case they better put their thinking caps back on – and quickly.

The self-employed and freelancers make up a huge part of the working population to leave out in the cold.

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Noel Guilford


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