Why isn’t the UK Government doing more to help the self-employed during COVID-19?

On Friday 20th March The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, along with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries, announced the government for the first time in history will be stepping in and paying peoples wages. The government will be paying 80% of the salaries of retained workers (up to £2500 a month) and defer the next quarter of VAT payments due from businesses in the next quarter. 

However; self-employed individuals/freelancers are not being included in this budget. Despite Sunak saying he has developed a package of measures to support the self-employed and freelancers that will ‘strengthen the safety net for those who work for themselves’ there is rising anger amongst the self-employed who feel the support is not enough. 

In short, self-employed people will now have access to ‘full universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees’. Sunak also announced the deferral of the next rounds of self-assessment payments to January 2021. 

This is simply not enough. The Federation of Small Businesses commented on the matter 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 sam sum might only access around £5000 worth of support.” The exact figure is actually £4888.

Self-employed people are often so undervalued by society despite being hard-working, talented and the backbone to many industries. Self-employed individuals also have families to provide for and have rent/mortgages to pay. Before you click away remember your dance teacher, your driving instructor, the photographer at your last gig, the performer you loved in that West End show, your yoga teacher, your favourite writer, the DJ at that club you love going to on a Saturday night. They are all self employed.

Please sign the following petition to encourage the UK Government to give more help to self-employed help through this incredibly challenging time. Stay safe and keep spreading the love (from at least 1 metre apart). x