As of 25 March 2020, the Chancellor had announced the following support:
- The self-employed can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. This is equivalent to £94.25 a week.
- If you pay tax through self-assessment and were due to pay a second instalment by 31 July, this deadline has now been deferred until January 2021.
- Zero hours contract workers may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, or Universal Credit.
This information is expected to change, as the Chancellor has committed to providing additional support imminently following concerns that these steps were not enough to help freelancers and self employed people make ends meet.
Until the government finalises its plans for self employed people and freelancers, you can find additional guidance on the following sites:
- Government guidance for employees, including self-employed
- Government guidance on accessing Universal Credit during Coronavirus
- Federation of Small Businesses advice for small businesses and self-employed
- Citizens Advice advice on claiming benefits
Fighting your corner
The support announced so far is simply not good enough. There are five million self-employed and freelancers across the country, including thousands in Lewisham East, who are at risk of losing their income and livelihoods as a direct result of Covid 19. The Government must quickly do more to protect 80% of self-employed workers’ income, and put financial protection for the self-employed on an equal footing with employees.
The Chancellor has promised that he will bring forward a new package of support for the self-employed and freelancers, but this must happen quickly and without delay.
I have written jointly to the Chancellor and backed Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s call for urgent action to protect the self-employed, and I have signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for temporary universal basic income.
I will keep fighting your corner to make sure that the intense pressure from the Opposition, unions and the media translates into real and rapid action by the Government.