Although the Chancellor’s announcement on Friday provided the sort of income protection that many of us had been seeking for workers, I was shocked to see that it failed to help the self-employed. While funding 80% of the incomes of employees, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, the announcement left the self-employed dependant on Statutory Sick Pay of £94.25 per week.
On Friday evening and Saturday morning, many self-employed constituents contacted me and I wrote immediately to the Chancellor, urging him to give all self-employed workers the same income protection as others. The Government have celebrated and encouraged self-employment. Now it must do the right thing for people who make up 15% of the nation’s workforce.
My letter to the Chancellor reads:
I am writing on behalf of the many constituents who contacted me last night and this morning, who are self-employed and who were shocked by the failure to address their position in your statement yesterday.
I welcome the action that you have taken for other workers, but the self-employed have been told that they can only turn to SSP which is set at a level which the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he could not live on.
Self-employed people who have set up their own businesses have been rightly celebrated for their entrepreneurial initiative. Freelancers play a vital role in many sectors. There are also many people who have been forced into self-employed status in jobs which were once available through conventional employment.
According to the ONS, there are 5 million self-employed across the UK, making up 15% of the nation’s workforce. They deserve the same treatment as any other workers in this current crisis. I would therefore urge you to build on your statement on Friday, by offering the same income support to the self-employed that you announced for others.
I heard your colleague the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, describe the introduction of such measures as operationally difficult. Many of the actions currently being taken in response to the coronavirus are difficult, but the Government must do what is right. There are many ways of overcoming these difficulties and I urge you do so without further delay.
With best wishes