Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Chloe Shakesby

The business community reacts to Chancellor's new self-employment aid

Yesterday (March 26) the Chancellor announced new measures to support self-employed workers through the coronavirus pandemic.

In yesterday’s announcement, Rishi Sunak announced that people who have been self-employed for at least a year can claim up to 80 per cent of their earnings from the government.

However, this is up to a limit of £2.5k per month, and is only available to those who have at least one year’s worth of tax returns.

The funds will not be available until June, but will be backdated to March.

The business community reacted to the new measures.

Albert Azis-Clauson, UnderPinned

“Today the Chancellor has added the missing piece of the jigsaw to his bold rescue plan.

“The announcement will come as a huge relief to the five million self-employed people in the UK who have had a very uncomfortable few days waiting for this news.”

“From gig economy workers to highly skilled freelancers, our self-employed workforce is helping to transform the UK economy and it is only right that we provide it with the support it needs to survive in these unprecedented times.”

** Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)**

“This bold support package from the government will give much-needed help to vast numbers of self-employed workers, guaranteeing 80 per cent of income to those affected, with earnings of up to £50k.

“This is a time of national emergency, and it is very welcome that the government has listened to FSB and responded with a multi-billion-pound package to support the most financially vulnerable entrepreneurs, and to do so through the self-assessment system.

“The self-employed community underpins the UK economy. They are the individual risk-takers who don’t expect the same benefits as employees.

“In this moment of a collective national effort to overcome a global pandemic, today’s package is a significant, multi-billion-pound improvement on what was proposed last Friday.

“Many tax-paying self-employed who will be helped by today’s measures will be relieved. Although the deal is not perfect, the government has moved a long way today.

“This is an incredibly challenging situation for everyone. While the healthcare response is paramount, overcoming the economic disruption also requires a speedy response in the interests of jobs and future growth.

“Today’s announcement will give hope to many hard-working, self-employed entrepreneurs, and it is important that the scheme is ready on-time and delivered as soon as possible.

“As this will be run through self-assessment, it is vital that any late filers submit their 2018-2019 return, right now, or they risk missing out.”

** Dr Adam Marshall, BCC**

“The Chancellor’s announcement offers a lifeline to the vast majority of the UK’s 5 million self-employed people, many of whom have seen their livelihoods vanish overnight.

“Chambers, along with other business groups, have worked constructively with government to ensure the self-employed receive similar support to those who are employed through PAYE.

“We welcome the scale of this scheme and recognise the complexities involved in its design. It is now critical that the government delivers this practical support to people on the ground as soon as possible.”

Sarah Coles, Hargreaves Lansdown

“Finally, the government has thrown a lifeline to the self-employed, to help save millions of businesses.

“Unfortunately it’s going to take months to reach people, so some may well have gone under by then.

“It also comes with a major catch – in future self-employed people are likely to have to pay National Insurance and tax in a way that is more closely matched employed people.

“This package will come as a huge relief to millions of self-employed people, but not all of them.

“Those who have started to work for themselves recently, earn too much, or mix and match self-employed income with work, will not be covered.

“Even among those who qualify, having to wait possibly until June is likely to cause all kinds of financial headaches.

“Keeping your finances together is hard enough in normal times when you’re self-employed, but doing it when your income has fallen off a cliff is unspeakably hard.

“Fluctuating earnings make it harder to put money aside for the future too – so while a savings safety net is even more important for people who are working for themselves, in reality it’s often difficult to spare the cash.

“It means many will have little or nothing to fall back on.”

Jonathan Walker, North East England Chamber of Commerce

“The Chancellor has heeded the call from the scores of self-employed people that make such a vital contribution to our economy for support to get through this crisis.

“We welcome the measures announced today, which should provide some relief and reassurance to those who have seen their livelihoods placed under severe strain in such a short period of time.

“However, we are seeing businesses large and small facing immediate threats to their future.

“While we accept the enormous complexity involved in all of the measures that have been announced, it is vital that they are implemented as quickly as possible.

“We know any delays will cause unnecessary hardship to many of our region’s businesspeople.”

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