Coronavirus update: Government ‘lifeline’ for self-employed welcomed by business groups

March 29, 2020

Business organisations have backed government help outlined last night to support the self-employed and sole traders affected by coronavirus, describing them as a lifeline for around 5m people.

The measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured below, provide a grant worth 80% of profits up to a cap of £2,500 a month and are targeted at those with earnings averaging less than £50,000 over the previous three years. 

Phil Smith managing director of Business West – the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Intiative – said the announcement would ease the plight of the vast majority of the UK’s army of the self-employed, many of whom had seen their livelihoods vanish overnight.

“Business West, along with other business groups, has worked constructively with government to ensure the self-employed receive similar support to those who are employed through PAYE,” he said.

“We welcome the scale of this scheme and recognise the complexities involved in its design. It is now critical that the government delivers this practical support to people on the ground as soon as possible.”

CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, pictured below, said the measures would provide essential support to those facing significant uncertainty and loss of income.

“Given the complexity of the task, it’s understandable this will take time to deliver. Fast clarity on how and when money will reach their bank accounts will help individuals to plan,” she said. 

“The self-employed make an immense contribution to our society and across many industries. They will play a critical role in the UK’s recovery once we overcome the worst of the virus.”

Earlier this week the same organisations had welcomed the government’s drastic measures to put the country into virtual lockdown in a bid to combat the rapid spread of coronavirus.

The CBI said the action presented “great challenges” while the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said it made it even more vital that support for businesses was delivered quickly.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn at the CBI said: “Protecting the public will protect businesses in the long run.

“These latest measures will of course present great challenges, disrupting daily lives and the normal run of business. But we all owe it to each other to act responsibly, both people and businesses. 

“The economic support the government is providing and the determination of firms to support their employees mean together that the right action can be taken to protect lives and livelihoods.”

BCC director general Adam Marshall, pictured right, added that businesses must play their part to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

However, he said as the UK went into lockdown, ministers must be crystal-clear about which businesses could continue to operate, and those which must now shut their doors.

“The new restrictions make it all the more important that the massive package of financial support announced by ministers last week is delivered to firms and employees on the ground as quickly as possible,” he added.


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