The Chancellor has unveiled new measures designed to help support the country’s legion of non-staff workers.
– What’s the big announcement, then?
It was the news that self-employed workers and freelancers had been eagerly anticipating – that the new support package for self-employed people would match that of permanent staff in covering 80% of average earnings over the past three years. They would need to demonstrate this by presenting three years’ worth of accounts.
– Was the Government under pressure to deliver?
– Sounds promising. What about people not covered by the scheme?
Mr Sunak said the scheme covered 95% of self-employed people for whom the majority of their earnings come from that work. He said the remaining 5% had average annual earnings of more than £200,000 per year, so would not be covered by the scheme. He described this as “reasonable, proportionate and fair”.
– He mentioned Universal Credit – what is this?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been inundated with more than half a million new applications for the controversial welfare reform in the last week, which replaced benefits such as income support and job seeker’s allowance.
– So will self-employed people in immediate need for Universal Credit be able to get an advance credit to tide them over?
Yes. Mr Sunak said those in need would be able to get an advanced payment “almost immediately” so would not have to wait for 10 days. The Chancellor said that extra resources were being put into local authorities to help those who are most vulnerable to pay for things such as council tax bills.
– What about people who have only entered the self-employment workforce and may not have the full three years’ worth of accounts?
– So this scheme has broadly been welcomed?
It’s a tonic for those worried about their futures. However, the fact they will have to wait until June to claim the support will do little to soothe some concerns.