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because the only data the government holds on their earnings comes for income tax self-assessments that are 18 months out of date.
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".