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We must support the self-employed

March 24, 2020 2:01 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Last week, the Government set out a package of financial measures to support UK workers, highlighting just how threatening coronavirus is to our economy and our society.

As soon as these measures were announced, Liberal Democrats stated our concerns that far too little was being provided to help the self-employed through this crisis. Days later, and no new support has been announced by the Government.

There are five million self-employed people in the UK. These are our construction workers, our childminders and our delivery drivers.

Each day that we fail to take action to protect the self-employed, millions of people remain worried and unsure of how they are going to support themselves or their families. Leaving them with no reliable safety net is unacceptable.

Ministers cannot keep hiding from the insecurity these individuals have been put in by the coronavirus crisis. It is not good enough to say it is "operationally difficult" to pay them.

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The Liberal Democrats have put down amendments to the Government's coronavirus legislation to support the self-employed. They are:

  • increasing the weekly rate of Statutory Sick Pay from £94.25 to £220

  • guaranteeing 80% of self-employed individuals' earnings, up to £35,000

By subsidising salaries for workers, guaranteeing incomes for the self-employed and boosting sick pay we can ensure that we are not only protecting our economy, but our society. That is why we are also urging the Chancellor to back a Citizen's Income, and quickly, to ensure those most in need have financial security.

Leaving self-employed people with no reliable safety net is unacceptable.

While assisting the self-employed does create more challenges than with PAYE employees, the Government must surely err on the side of caution and get help out to people, rather than find reasons and excuses for doing nothing, or too little.

There are clear gaps in what the Chancellor has announced and the Liberal Democrats will continue to push for these measures to be taken forward so that no-one gets forgotten as this crisis continues.