Chancellor reveals a Self-employed Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks during a media briefing in Downing Street London on coronavirus

Self-employed workers have called on Rishi Sunak to explain how they will pay their bills for the next three months, while senior MPs and union leaders are urging him to make the aid available much earlier.

There are also claims that the delay in the coronavirus bailout for the self-employed could set the jobless total soaring and kill off start-up businesses.

It comes after it was announced last Friday that the Government would cover 80 percent of wages up to £2,500 ($2,989) a month for staff being kept on by their employer. Any self-employed person affected by the government shutdown will be able to claim a direct cash grant worth 80% of their profits averaged over the past three years up to a maximum of £2500 a month. "Seriously? It's ridiculous. It's going to be very hard for a lot of people".

"My worry is that if people can not get access to the scheme until June it will simply be too late for millions".

How can Government identify those in need of support?

Mr Sunak said his rescue deal shows he is treating the self-employed like employed workers, but that in return everyone must pay in - hinting at reforms that could see the self-employed lose some tax advantages.

"But he [The Speaker] can rest assured that we understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what's happening and we are determined to find a way to support them".

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The comment was understood to be a reference to the fact that self-employed people pay lower rates of National Insurance and experts have said the Chancellor is likely to be plotting a tax rise.

People writing to the government to demand a package for the self-employed included the heads of U.K. terrestrial broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and the U.K. chief of ViacomCBS that owns Channel 5; a group of eminent economists from around the world; a U.K. department for digital, culture, media and sport committee; and a collective of leading musicians including Alison Balsom, Nicola Benedetti, Sarah Connolly and Sheku Kanneh-Mason. The chancellor said those applying for universal credit should be paid within a few days. For many, it is already too late.

Self-employed workers have been granted some reprieve after the chancellor announced new income benefits for the freelance workforce.

But there was strong support for the chancellor from business leaders.

Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday that self-employed people in the United Kingdom will be able to claim support worth 80% of their average monthly profits in an "unprecedented" move to cover the impact of Covid-19.

"We welcome the scale of this scheme and recognise the complexities involved in its design although it is not a panacea for all ills".

"It is now critical that the government delivers this practical support to people on the ground as soon as possible", BCC director general Adam Marshall said.

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