By Joe Harker
On Friday the government announced a significant raft of measures to support millions of British workers, promising to cover 80 per cent of salaries backdated to March 1.
It will cover payments up to £2,500 a month and is for people who have been retained by their employers but are stuck at home and not able to work, guaranteeing that people will still get paid during the coronavirus pandemic.
It should also help employers turn away from job losses as a solution to the need for cutting costs in response to being shut, meaning the British public will still have money coming in whether or not their employer still has work for them to do.
However, there's a conspicuous group of people who aren't covered by Rishi Sunak's new policies, the self employed.
There's about five million Brits who are self employed, whether they run their own business, work on a freelance basis or have other arrangements.
Legal action has been threatened against the government, with the chancellor's policies described as "discriminatory" towards the self employed.
The Independent Workers of Great Britain union said Sunak's exclusion of the self employed from his relief plans would cause more concern and impact the mental health of millions of workers concerned about their future.
They have argued that sick pay is too low to reasonably live on, with around half of self employed Brits indicating that they would need to keep working even if they contracted coronavirus because they couldn't afford to stop.
Many of Britain's self employed workers are in a financially unstable position with incomes likely to be hit hard by the pandemic and lacking the same safety nets that employers provide for their workers.
The Counter Claim:
The government is trying to put something together and hopes it will have new measures to provide to the self employed soon, but they have been keen to stress that it is more difficult than supporting other workers.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick warned of a range of technical challenges involved with supporting the self employed, saying it was more "logistically, operationally difficult" than providing help to companies.
Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, said the government should be given a few days to put a new package of support together for self employed Brits.
It's better to have good policy introduced a few days later than bad policy brought in very quickly which needs redoing later on. Sunak's recent budget and support measures are a testament to the difficulty of drafting policies which can cope with the expanding scope of the coronavirus.
The chancellor's budget, delivered mere days ago, is very much out of date and a £350 billion package designed to support businesses was not the end of the government's economic intervention.
Support for the self employed is coming according to reports on what the chancellor is doing to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus.
At the moment self employed workers are entitled to statutory sick pay, amounting to £94.25 per week.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts the chancellor will soon announce more measures to help the self employed, with the delays due to difficulty determining how much each person will earn and what form of help the policy will take.
Around 15 per cent of the British workforce is made up of the self employed and a third of self employed Brits earned so little that they had below £10,000 of taxable income.