21 March 2020 14:37
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced during a Downing Street conference on Friday that the Government would partially underwrite the wages of workers who faced being laid off as activity collapses. This measure, to provide 80 percent of employees' wages up to £2,500 per month, contrasted with support given to freelancers who were told to claim Universal credit or Statutory sick pay at a rate of £94 per week. Former Conservative cabinet minister David Davis said the economy could suffer a near "fatal seizure" if self-employed workers were not protected. PA 25/29 Jawad Javed delivers coronavirus protection kits that he and his wife have put together to the vulnerable people of their community of Stenhousemuir, between Glasgow and Edinburgh AFP via Getty Images 26/29 A empty restaurant in the Bull Ring Shopping Centre Getty Images 27/29 A deserted Trafalgar Square in London PA 28/29 A woman wearing a face mask walks past Buckingham Palace Getty Images 29/29 Passengers determined to avoid the coronavirus before leaving the UK arrive at Gatwick Airport Getty Images 1/29 A woman wearing an eye mask over her nose and mouth, as a precautionary measure against covid-19, crosses a road outside Victoria Station in central London AFP via Getty Images 2/29 A deserted area around the Tower of London and Tower Bridge Getty Images 3/29 Mia, aged 8 and her brother Jack, aged 5 from Essex, continue their school work at home, after being sent home due to the coronavirus PA 4/29 A shopper walks past empty shelves in a Lidl store on in Wallington. The piece features a woman and a man pulling back to give each other a kiss PA 7/29 The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic PA 8/29 A newspaper vendor in Manchester city centre giving away free toilet rolls with every paper bought as shops run low on supplies due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus PA 9/29 Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside PA 10/29 A general view on Grey street, Newcastle as coronavirus cases grow around the world Reuters 11/29 Homeless people in London AFP via Getty Images 12/29 Britain's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (L) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance look on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news conference inside 10 Downing Street Reuters 13/29 Locked school gates at Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear PA 14/29 A sign at a Sainsbury's supermarket informs customers that limits have been set on a small number of products as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases grow around the world Reuters 15/29 A near empty Westminster Bridge AP 16/29 A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria Jeremy Selwyn 17/29 Jeremy Selwyn 18/29 A commuter wears a face mask at London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn 19/29 Staff from The Lyric Theatre, London inform patrons, as it shuts its doors PA 20/29 A quieter than usual British Museum Getty Images 21/29 A racegoer attends Cheltenham in a fashionable face mask SplashNews.com 22/29 A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads "Diseases are in the City" in Edinburgh AFP via Getty Images 23/29 A quiet looking George IV Bridge in Edinburgh PA 24/29 The ticket-validation terminals at the tram stop on Edinburgh's Princes Street are cleaned following the coronavirus outbreak.
Some MPs have warned that Chancellor Rishi Sunak's plan to pay up to 80 per cent of workers' who faced being laid off does nothing to help freelancers, contractors and the self-employed. "So we have increased the allowance on Universal Credit, we have made it available from day one, we have removed the minimum income floor so if people who are self-employed are working less than 35 hours in a week they are not penalised within the benefits system." The Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank predicted that the Chancellor would come forward with additional measures to help the self-employed. With the government pledging to pay up to 80% of the wages of employees, up to £2,500 a month, if firms agreed to keep them on, many have pointed out that currently self employed workers are only entitled to claim Universal Credit at £94 a week - the equivalent of around £4,800 a year. Former Conservative cabinet minister David Davis said the economy could suffer a near "fatal seizure" if such people aren't protected. He said the self-employed were being helped through measures such as the deferral of self-assessment tax requirements, payment holidays for mortgage payers and the strengthening of the welfare "safety net" and the issue was about "operationally what is difficult to do and what can be delivered to the timescales were are working to".