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Thank you for your support for the sector at this time.
Covid-19 Self-Employed Workers
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme excludes many workers, including the self-employed, gig economy workers and, potentially, those on zero-hour contracts.
There are 5 million self-employed workers in the UK, many of whom are already experiencing the economic impact of the outbreak. This can be devastating, particularly in cases where all or significant streams of income have immediately stopped.
Many workers are putting the health of others and the NHS first by self-isolating. Some will have become ill and many will have reduced hours due to increased childcare responsibilities now that the schools have closed. Even in cases where remote work is the norm, lots of work is being cancelled or postponed as clients are uncertain about the future.
The discrepancy between the support for employees and other workers is significant and arbitrary: all workers should be treated equally.
Norway is compensating self-employed people who have lost work with 80% of their average income over the last 3 years. A similar system should be implemented here for workers not covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Universal Credit excludes many workers – including those with tax bills that exceed the savings threshold – so support should be made available through another mechanism.
The deferral of Payments On Account is of no comfort either. This is a loan to and from the self-employed, payable in full six months later. In many cases, the deferred figure won’t be enough to sustain a business. Even in cases where it is, saving that amount again in such a short period of time is unfeasible.
Given the scale and gravity of the situation for many workers, it’s imperative that immediate action is taken: not in a week or a month, but today.
Please consider supporting all workers by pressuring the government to review this policy as soon as possible.