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Coronavirus: Tens of thousands of Redbridge’s self-employed workers waiting for government support

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 March 2020

A demonstrator protests about the UK Government sick pay allowance of £94 per week for freelance and self employed workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow

A demonstrator protests about the UK Government sick pay allowance of £94 per week for freelance and self employed workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow

PA Wire/PA Images

Tens of thousands of Redbridge’s self-employed workers are waiting to see if they will get government support through the coronavirus crisis, figures suggest.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Treasury is “determined to find a way to support” those who work for themselves.

In the House of Commons yesterday (March 24) Ilford North MP Wes Streeting told the Chancellor that any new measures shouldn’t leave self-employed people behind.

Mr Streeting said: “The degree of anxiety is increased because they’ve seen a ship sailing, carrying others but not them.”

Office for National Statistics figures show an estimated 36,800 people aged 16 or over in the area were self-employed in the year to September – 25.5pc of all those in work.

That’s significantly higher than the rate across the UK as a whole, where self-employed workers made up 15.2pc of those in employment.

The figures are taken from the Annual Population Survey, which asks sample populations across the UK to classify their employment status.

Almost 5 million workers were thought to be self-employed across the UK in the year to September based on the surveys.

Mr Sunak recently announced measures to cover 80pc of salaries of staff who are kept on by their employers.

But there have been increasing calls to extend similar help to self-employed workers.

Ryan Barnett, economic policy adviser at IPSE, said: “Although the Government has announced an unprecedented support package for employees, it has so far left the self-employed trailing far behind.

“The self-employed sector contributes £305 billion to the economy every year. It deserves much better than this.”

IPSE is calling on the Government to create a Temporary Income Protection Fund for freelancers and the self-employed, which would provide a grant to replace 80% of income for the worst-affected.

Mr Barnett added: “It is understood the Government is working on a new package of support for the self-employed. If true, this is very welcome – and a signal it does not want to leave anyone behind.”

Mr Sunak said: “We absolutely understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what is happening and are determined to find a way to support them”.

He added: “We just need to be confident that can be done in a way that is deliverable and is fair for the vast majority of the British work force.”

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