Speech

Chancellor outlines new coronavirus support measures for the self-employed

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced the next economic steps to help the self employed.

Chancellor giving speech at podium

Good afternoon.

Today I can announce the next step in the economic fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, with new support for the self-employed.

Our step-by-step action plan is aiming to slow the spread of Coronavirus so fewer people need hospital treatment at any one time, protecting the NHSs ability to cope.

At every point, we have followed expert advice to be controlled in our actions taking the right measures at the right times.

We are taking unprecedented action to increase NHS capacity by increasing the numbers of beds, key staff and life-saving equipment on the front-line to give people the care they need.

That is why it is absolutely critical that people follow our instructions to stay at home, so we can protect our NHS and save lives.

Our action plan to beat the pandemic is the right thing to do but we know people are worrying about their jobs and their incomes.

Working closely with businesses and trade unions, we have put together a coherent, coordinated and comprehensive economic plan a plan which is already starting to make a difference:

  • big employers like Brewdog, Timpsons and Pret have already said that our Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme means they can furlough thousands of staff, rather than laying them off. And we are publishing this evening detailed guidance on how the scheme will operate so that other businesses can take advantage, too

  • small businesses are already benefiting from Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans of up to 5 million, which are interest free for 12 months with 30,000 enquiries in just four days

  • local authorities are already informing more than 700,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that they will pay no business rates this year

  • and the new hardship grants scheme, providing cash grants of up to 25,000 for the smallest businesses, is now up and running

So if any business is struggling, and worrying they may need to lose staff, I would urge you to log on to businesssupport.gov.uk, and look very carefully at what support is available before deciding to lay people off.

Im proud of what weve done so far, but I know that many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them.

Musicians and sound engineers; plumbers and electricians; taxi drivers and driving instructors; hairdressers and childminders and many others, through no fault of their own, risk losing their livelihoods.

To you, I say this: You have not been forgotten. We will not let you behind. We are all in this together.

So, to support those who work for themselves, today I am announcing a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to 2,500 a month.

This scheme will be open for at least three months and I will extend it for longer if necessary.

Youll be able to claim these grants and continue to do business.

And were covering the same amount of income for a self-employed person as we are for furloughed employees, who also receive a grant worth 80%.

Thats unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.

Providing such unprecedented support for self-employed people has been difficult to do in practice.

And the self-employed are a diverse population, with some people earning significant profits.

So Ive taken steps to make this scheme deliverable, and fair:

  • to make sure that the scheme provides targeted support for those most in need, it will be open to anyone with income up to 50,000.

  • to make sure only the genuinely self-employed benefit, it will be available to people who make the majority of their income from self-employment

  • and to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply

95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme.

HMRC are working on this urgently and expect people to be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June.

If youre eligible, HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out a simple online form, then pay the grant straight into your bank account.

And to make sure no one who needs it misses out on support, we have decided to allow anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return.

But I know many self-employed people are struggling right now, so weve made sure that support is available.

Self-employed people can access the business interruption loans.<

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