The chancellor Rishi Sunak has today announced unprecedented measures to support self-employed people through the economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measures, which are hoped to be up and running in June, mean that anyone who filed a tax return last year will be eligible to claim a taxable grant of up to 80% of their average profits, up to a value of £2,500 per month.
This means that self-employed people will be able to claim a proportion of their income on the same terms as employees.
The scheme will be open to any self-employed person or business with trading profits of up to £50,000.
It is also only available to businesses and individuals who filed a taxi return for last year, and who make up the majority of their income from being self-employed.
However, a four-week grace period has been announced from today to allow those who have yet to file their tax returns from last year to do so, in order to be able to use the scheme.
The chancellor nonetheless took a cautious tone, saying: “Despite these extraordinary steps, there will be challenging times ahead.
“I am confident that the measures we have put in place will support self-employed people to through this, get through it together, and emerge on the other side stronger and more united.
“What we have done will, I believe, stand as one of the most significant economic interventions by anybody in the history of the British state.”
The move has been welcomed by many figures, including Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
Once again, the Chancellor has shown his ability to listen. This move is welcome & will help millions. But initial feedback says June will be a stretch. Case for an up-front blanket £1k payment in April to tide people over? Just an idea. Could be deducted from the final figure.
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) March 26, 2020
One remark drew particular interest, alluding to potential reform in the way the welfare state will be supported in the future.
In a statement which stuck out from the rest of the speech, Chancellor Sunak declared: “It is now much harder to justify the inconsistent contributions between people of different employment statuses.
“If we all want to benefit equally from state support, we must all pay in equally in the future.”
In the meantime however, self-employed people will now be able to rest a little easier knowing that they have some income secured over the coming months.