Self-Employed To Get Paid 80% Of Average Profits During Second Lockdown

Prime minister outlines how the government will support people during November shutdown.
Boris Johnson in the Commons
Boris Johnson in the Commons
Boris Johnson in the Commons

Self-employed people will get 80% of their average past trading profits during England’s second lockdown in November, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister said the government would boost government support for the self-employed from the lower figure of 40% to 80% for this month only.

It comes as the country prepares to go into a national lockdown from Thursday until December 2, with most firms, shops and leisure facilities ordered to close.

During a snap press conference on Saturday, the prime minister confirmed that the furlough scheme would be extended for November too, with workers to get 80% of their usual salary from the emergency wages fund.

Trade unions have warned the government that many freelancers and self-employed groups were still excluded from support, however.

But underlining a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisations, Johnson has said there could be twice as many deaths over the winter in comparison to the first wave.

MPs will vote on the second lockdown on Wednesday and the prime minister could face a backbench Tory rebellion as a growing number of his MPs demand an end to stringent Covid curbs on businesses and individuals.

Johnson said: “I am truly sorry for the anguish these measures will impose particularly for businesses which had just got back on their feet. Businesses across the country who had gone to such trouble to make themselves Covid secure, to install Perspex screens, to do the right thing.

“Each of these actions has helped to bring the R down and their hard work, your hard work, will stand them in good stead, will stand you in good stead, but it is now clear that we must do more together.

“So the government will continue to do everything possible to support jobs and livelihoods in the next four weeks as we have throughout. We protected almost 10m jobs with furlough and we’re now extending the scheme throughout November.

“We’ve already paid out £13.7bn to help the self-employed and I can announce today that for November we will double our support from 40% to 80% of trading profits.”

Media and entertainment union Bectu said the support would not reach everyone, with freelancers in the creative sector remaining hard hit.

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs, said it was “right” to extend support, adding: “But the elephant in the room remains the 2.9 million self-employed and freelance workers still excluded from government support, including thousands in the creative sectors.

“The government must urgently fix SEISS (the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme) and give security to these workers who have been ignored by the government since March.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady also said ministers “should not think their work is done”, adding: “It has taken the government far too long to set the level of self-employed income support at a fair and decent rate. And even now, the support at 80% will only cover a few weeks of the grant, meaning many people could still face hardship.

“Ministers should not think their work is done. There are lots of self-employed workers who will not qualify for this support. And the suspension of the minimum income floor in universal credit should be extended beyond its current end date of 13 November.”


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