Coronavirus Update – Our Package for the Self-Employed
The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. Our message to the public is clear: you must stay at home, in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
The Government said we would do whatever it takes to protect people’s jobs and incomes – and we meant it. We know many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them.
That is why the Chancellor has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers: the musicians, the sound engineers, the plumbers, the electricians, the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the childminders, the driving instructors, and many others.
Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month – that’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.
We know there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed workers to get through this, and emerge on the other side both stronger and more united as a country. And we will get through this together.
The scheme the Chancellor has announced today is fair. It is targeted at those who need it the most. And crucially, it is deliverable:
- We are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but we will extend it for longer if necessary.
- We will make it simple for self-employed people to get the financial support they need. Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. We expect people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.
- We are ensuring our support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.
This builds on the support that is available to self-employed people:
- For self-employed people who are struggling now, we’ve also made sure that many will be able to access loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. This scheme provides loans of up to £5 million, which will be interest free for twelve months.
- Supporting people through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online.
- Suspending the minimum income floor for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
- Deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021.
We have introduced unprecedented measures to support our country through this time:
Protecting our public services:
- We have pledged that whatever resources the NHS needs, it will get. We will provide any extra resources needed by the NHS and other public services – starting with an initial £5 billion fund so the NHS can treat Coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people; and ensure funding is available for other public services.
- Lifted the incomes of over four million households with a £7 billion boost to the welfare system. We are increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months – a cash injection of nearly £7 billion in the welfare system.
- Introduced three month mortgage holidays and £1 billion more support for renters. The mortgage holiday will be available for those who are in difficulty due to coronavirus. We are also providing nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas.
- Making Statutory Sick Pay available for people diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, helping people with their finances. We have already set out that SSP will be available from day one for people who have COVID-19. But the Budget sets out that this will now cover those who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate as well as for people within the same household who display symptoms. Those who are advised to self-isolate will able to obtain a doctor’s note via NHS 111 as medical evidence for SSP.
- Promised to pay 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed workers for three months. Any employer in the country who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off. Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – above the median income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open initially for at least three months – and we will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.
- Deferred more than £30 billion of tax payments until the end of the year. We are deferring the next three months of VAT tax, a direct injection of over £30billion of cash to businesses, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP. That means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June, and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
- Agreed nearly 17,000 Time to Pay arrangements for businesses and individuals, helping businesses and self-employed workers with their tax affairs.
- Made available £330 billion of loans and guarantees – that’s equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP. And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion, we will go further and provide as much capacity as required.That means any business, small or large, in financial difficulty who needs access to cash to pay their rent, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms.
- Abolished business rates altogether this year for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. All businesses in this sector are exempt from business rates for 12 months – that’s every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors.
- Introduced cash grants of up to £25,000 for small business properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Any business with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can now get access to a government grant.
- Covered the cost of statutory sick pay for small business. We are supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding eligible SSP costs. The refund will be limited to two weeks per employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid-19.
- We have launched a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers who can help the NHS support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic. These volunteers will help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions
To sign up go to: goodsamapp.org/NHS
Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives
Stay at home
You must stay at home, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
- One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
Protect the NHS
You must stay at home to protect the NHS:
- The NHS only has a limited number of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.
- We are working around the clock to increase NHS capacity.
- The more people who get sick, the harder it is for the NHS to cope.
- We must slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick at any one time.
You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives:
- Police will disperse gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with.
- Police will issue fines to anyone who does not comply with these rules.
- Police will close all shops that are not essential, as well as playgrounds and places of worship.
The Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation
The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.
All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer
And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.
And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.
Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.
And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.
To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.
So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease.
Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope - and save more lives.
And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.
And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all - the time has now come for us all to do more.
From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home.
Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.
That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
- any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
- travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
That’s all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home.
You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.
You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.
You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.
If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:
- close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
- we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;
- and we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.
Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.
No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.
I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.
And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.
And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.
But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.
And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.
Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.
With the time you buy – by simply staying at home - we are increasing our stocks of equipment.
We are accelerating our search for treatments.
We are pioneering work on a vaccine.
And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.
I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.
Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.
But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted.
Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together.
To halt the spread of this disease.
To protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.
And I know that as they have in the past so many times.
The people of this country will rise to that challenge.
And we will come through it stronger than ever.
We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.
And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.