On Tuesday 24th March, chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted that supporting the self employed during the coronavirus outbreak is particularly challenging. This follows after he announced a historic wage protection package last Friday where grants will cover 80% of salary of retained workers up to £2,500 a month.
These measures were announced as civilians continued not to comply with government guidelines and advise around non-mobility and social distancing. They were expected to alleviate the concerns of gig-economy workers and daily wage earners. Rishi Sunak had last Friday said,
"Today I can announce that in the first time of our history, the government is going to step in and help pay people's wages.
"We're setting up a new coronavirus job retention scheme. Any employer in the country small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme.
"Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month - that's just above the median income."
An official guideline around the amount of wages that the employees on zero-hour contracts are entitled to is still being hammered out. However, the Chancellor has assured that No. 11 is closely co-ordinating with the Bank of England in terms of building a war chest, and borrowing especially as it looks at the sustenance of this model for the next few months in light of the warnings issued by scientists and health experts around the long-term effect of the virus running until Spring 2021.
But, the government is under growing pressure to financially support non-contracted workers and entrepreneurs, who face a potentially devastating loss of income and are still crowding London underground tube everyday. But speaking on the floor of the Commons on Tuesday, Chancellor said,
“There are genuine practical and principled reasons why it is incredibly complicated to design an analogous scheme to the one that we have for employed workers.
“But, rest assured that we absolutely understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what’s happening and are determined to find a way to support them.
“We just need to be confident that can be done in a way that is deliverable and is fair to the vast majority of the British workforce.”