Lack of help awarded to self-employed during COVID-19 crisis branded a ‘scandal’ by taxi association

The lack of help awarded to self-employed workers in the latest Government COVID-19 financial measures has been branded a “scandal” by taxi driver representatives.

Yesterday at the Government’s daily press conference, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled tax cuts and wage boosts in a bid to ease anxiety felt over lost income due to the coronavirus virus.

Chancellor Sunak announced a historical financial package offering to pay wages of up to 80% for people not working, but kept on PAYE payroll.

For many this package was welcomed, but for the self-employed workers who make up 15% of the UK workforce, the measures did not go far enough.

Like many, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, Peter Kyle, was supportive of the boost given to businesses, but has also called for more to be done to support the self-employed. He said: “The new measures to support wages are hugely welcomed and will save countless from hardship.

“The question that urgently needs answering now is: Will the self-employed have 80% of their earnings protected too?

“The well-being of millions depends on it.”

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) who represent around half of the 20,000 cabbies in the capital, were more scathing, saying: “Absolutely nothing for self employed, the very people who need help the most. Unable to work, unable to claim benefits, the forgotten workers, many the backbone of the Tory ‘work pays’ ethos. It’s a scandal.”

In a later tweet responding to The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn, the LTDA added: “Tom, absolutely spot on! No jobs, no benefits and no future. This lack of government action will result in repossessions of houses and cabs, despair and misery. The omission of any reference to self employed is a scandal!”

The Federation of Small Businesses was equally critical, saying: “The question at this point is – with firms being forced to close – why have the self-employed been excluded from the commitment to pay 80% of earnings?

“It cannot be right that an employee currently earning £25,000 a year could access £20,000 per annum through the new job retention scheme, while someone who’s self-employed earning the same sum might only access around £5,000 worth of support.”

Broadcaster and journalist, Jeremy Vine also questioned the lack of support for self-employed workers, writing: “Can this be right? Someone on £30k a year gets a £24k salary from the government during the coronavirus crisis.

“But a self-employed person gets just £94 a week, which would be £4,800 a year.”

One plumbing and heating firm based in Kent, LP Plumbing & Heating Ltd, shared a message to the Government saying: “Just a little reminder that we are here and need your help to. All you've offered us is debt further down the line. What will you do when this is all over and our businesses have gone under, & there is knowone left to fix people's homes?”

It is estimated that around 5milliom people in the UK are self-employed.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of self-employed workers increased from 3.3million people in 2001 to 4.8million in 2017.

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