Updated: Mar 23, 2020
A senior Conservative backbencher MP suggests help for the self-employed could come “early next week” as workers struggle following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sir Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon, gave some hope to self-employed workers struggling with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sir Streeter MP claimed that Treasury Ministers were “working up a plan for self-employed” people. The latest plan could be announced “early next week” and the MP was keen to reassure one of his self-employed constituents that “there will be help”.
On Friday, 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.
However widespread criticism was placed on the lack of support offered to the five million self-employed workers who make up 15% of the UK workforce.
Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, wrote to the Prime Minister asking for more economic security to be given to everyone to get through the pandemic.
Corbyn particularly highlighted the need for improved social security amongst the self-employed, renters and workers.
He wrote in his open letter to Boris Johnson: “The self-employed do not appear to be covered by this Scheme, a major omission given there are 5 million people self-employed and notwithstanding the separate changes to the minimum income floor.”
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, was equally concerned the self-employed section of the UK population were not being financially covered in current plans. She said: “Lots of people contacting me about more support for freelancers/self employed and I agree. Scottish Government will discuss further with HM Treasury.
“The significant support announced by UK Government on wages was very welcome, but we all recognise the need to do everything possible.”
Martin Lewis, financial commentator and founder of MoneySavingExpert, suggested he would be "surprised" if help didn’t come as early as next week for workers like taxi drivers, saying: “I’m hearing from many panicked self employed. I believe the govt knows it must sort this.
“Its been tackling the lower hanging fruit (ie easiest issues) first. Funding self-employed's tough logistically.
“Yet I'd be surprised if more help wasn't enacted next week. Try to hold on.”
Taxi drivers and other self-employed workers have seen income quickly dry up since social distancing measures were urgently put in place by the UK Government earlier this month.
Image credit (taxi light): LEVC