Chancellor casts lifeline for thousands of self-employed Scots

Thursday March 26th 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing the support for the self-employed

New financial support for the self-employed during the coronavirus outbreak has been announced by the UK Government.

Self-employed workers will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus, the chancellor has announced.

The money will be paid in a single lump sum, but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – who spearheaded calls for additional help for those that work for themselves – warmly welcomed the proposals.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Thousands of people who work for themselves in Scotland will now breathe a sigh of relief. This scheme will provide lifeline cash to self-employed people, with help targeted at those on low and moderate incomes.

“We need to vanquish the myth that those that work for themselves are universally wealthy. People like the local handyman, cleaner and fitness coach will benefit from this support.

“Like many of these government interventions, it will take a number of weeks for this programme to deliver. Therefore, those who qualify should try their banks for interim finance if required, while doing what they can to manage their outgoings. This will be much easier said than done, but with help on its way many of the self-employed will rest a little easier.”

Official figures show that there are more than 320,000 self-employed people in Scotland with 5,200 of them in Midlothian.

Andrew McRae said: “Throughout this crisis, we’ve found Ministers in Edinburgh and London sympathetic and approachable. These governments deserve credit for delivering support to business who face difficult circumstances that are neither under their control nor their fault.”

The FSB have been working hard to lobby the Government to provide support for the self-employed and the FSB was the first organisation that the Chancellor mentioned when he made his announcement.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement, Midlothian MP, Owen Thompson MP said:

“While I’m glad the UK Government have finally recognised the need for a package of support for the self-employed, and I welcome the parity with the employee scheme, the delay until June to access the funds is simply not good enough. I called for measures to be fair and fast – they have let the self-employed down on the latter part.

“This is an emergency and people whose cashflow stopped overnight need money now. To expect them to wait three months is ridiculous and shows a real lack of understanding of the stressful financial situation thousands of people face.

“The UK Government’s package will not do its job in keeping people afloat if it is not available at the time of need. So many other countries are already up and running with support. In New Zealand freelancers and sole traders applied for their wage support scheme and got the money in their banks two days later – why can’t this happen here?

“Now I see why the UK Government kept us waiting for this announcement until parliament broke up – they can avoid democratic scrutiny of the plans and answering any tricky questions.

“I urge the Chancellor to bring this money forward now.”

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