Chancellor to announce help for self-employed

The Chancellor will unveil a package of measures to support the self-employed today, with the government under increasing pressure to help millions of workers who have lost their livelihoods.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock watches Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons

There have been increasing calls for the UK Government to match the support being offered to employees, who have been told that 80% of their salary is guaranteed up to a limit of £2,500 per month if they are placed on furlough by their employer.

But Rishi Sunak warned on Tuesday that designing measures for the self-employed has proved difficult because the only data the government holds on their earnings comes for income tax self-assessments that are 18 months out of date.

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At the final Prime Minister’s Questions session before parliament goes into an extended month-long recess, Boris Johnson promised the government would “put its arms around every worker”, but was repeatedly challenged over the delay to a package of support.

Jeremy Corbyn - in his final PMQs as Labour leader - warned that “the self-employed are having to choose whether they go to work or stay at home or face losing their entire livelihood”, and potentially putting public health at risk.

Mr Corbyn asked: "Why has it taken the PM so long to guarantee income for all self-employed workers? There are millions of them, our economy has changed."

And the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "This morning the Resolution Foundation estimated that one in three people in self-employment, a total of 1.7 million workers, are now at risk of losing their income.

"In Scotland, that means that 320,000 self-employed people are deeply concerned about the jobs and the families they support."

He added: "Can the Prime Minister now explain why a package for the support for the self-employed wasn't put in place before we announced the lockdown?"

Mr Johnson replied that the Government has "done a huge amount already to strengthen the safety net for everybody in this country".