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FSB encouraged

Johnson in pledge to ‘stand behind’ self-employed

Mike Cherry

Mike Cherry: ‘business owners face a crunch point’

More help is expected for Britain’s five million self-employed amid concern that they have been overlooked in the government’s package of support to cope with the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said the government would be “standing behind” the self-employed as the crisis intensified.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick added that the government was looking at ways to overcome technical challenges relating to supporting self-employed people.

“It is more complicated for the self-employed than it is for employees,” he told Sky News, “but if we need to do more, we will do it and the chancellor is keeping this under review.”

At the weekend, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay, said there were “operational” difficulties, and pointed to help already offered through the delay in changes to IR35 and the deferment of tax.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the latest indication of more support must be followed through to help thousands of business owners concerned they could be facing ruin.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Over the weekend we have heard from thousands of self-employed people – including hairdressers, bakers, childcare providers, taxi drivers and café owners – many frightened and in despair at seeing their business fall away, and staring at the prospect of little or no financial support.

It is welcome to hear the that the Prime Minister is listening and offering new hope.

– Mike Cherry, FSB

“While it is welcome that the government has pledged to cover 80% of the wages of impacted employees, five million self-employed strivers have until now only been offered, at best, access to £94 a week. In desperation, many have attempted to apply for Universal Credit after Friday and have been turned down.

“These are people who have worked hard to build up their businesses, paid their taxes and helped the economy to grow. They now face a crunch point, with many unable to operate – leaving them without money, but with bills still stacking up.

“We have been strongly urging the government not to allow the self-employed to be left high and dry, and it is welcome to hear the that the Prime Minister is listening and offering new hope. This must now be turned urgently into practical and easily accessible support. Time is now running out.

“While the government has a big role to play, it is also vital that the banks play their part as well. Billions of pounds of loan guarantees come into effect tomorrow (Monday), and the banks must pass on without delay this access to finance for the struggling self-employed.”

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