Business membership bodies have responded positively to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s pledge of financial support for the self-employed impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Sunak has guaranteed 80% of income to those affected, with earnings of up to £50,000.
Richard Burge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the announcement will provide financial reassurance to many.
He added: “Self-employment is a complex area, by the Chancellor’s own admission, so we will also need to understand the specific implications of the package for individuals and their businesses, especially if they are incorporated – who we fear may be slipping through the net.
“What is clear is that there is a wait of weeks to access this support, and the capital has a higher cost of living than the rest of the UK. It’s imperative that banks are open to interim lending. And that whilst Universal Credit payment is not enough for many, there at least needs to be the resources to quickly process increased applications.”
National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, described the Chancellor’s plan as “bold”.
“This is a time of national emergency, and it is very welcome that the Government has listened to FSB and responded with a multi-billion-pound package to support the most financially vulnerable entrepreneurs, and to do so through the self-assessment system.
“This follows help in the Budget and since, that was aimed squarely at small businesses such as a cut in the jobs tax, cover for small employers that cannot pay their employees, business rates holidays, cash grants, mortgage holidays, rent protections, and interest-free, fee-free loans. We hope the raft of support will keep as many small businesses as possible afloat.
“The self-employed, however, remained a glaring gap. They needed more help, and especially those with least resources to prepare for this storm.
“We have heard despairing stories from hard-working hairdressers, bakers, childcare providers, freelancers, drivers and many others, seeing the businesses they’ve spent years building dry up in a matter of days. It is many of those strivers who today’s package will support.
“The self-employed community underpins the UK economy. They are the individual risk-takers who don’t expect the same benefits as employees.
“In this moment of a collective national effort to overcome a global pandemic, today’s package is a significant, multi-billion-pound improvement on what was proposed last Friday.
“Many tax-paying self-employed who will be helped by today’s measures will be relieved. Although the deal is not perfect, the Government has moved a long way today.”