Self employed need urgent financial support at this difficult time, says Colum Eastwood

Tue, 24/03/2020 - 16:33 -- Editor

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak today to underline the urgent need for support schemes for the self-employed as a result of Covid-19.

The Foyle MP said that a scheme on similar terms as those offered to businesses to support payroll staff must be a priority in the days ahead.

Colum Eastwood MP said: “An immense amount of support has been made available to businesses to help their workforce at an incredibly difficult time. There’s no doubt that these schemes will keep people afloat and allow them to observe the public health advice to stay at home or observe strict social distancing.

“There are, however, large numbers of self-employed people who cannot benefit from the support already made available. Taxi drivers, sole traders, micro-businesses and others. Instead they’ve been told that statutory sick pay, already far too low, must be enough to see them through the initial period. The reality is that it’s cold comfort for people with mortgages, rents or other financial commitments while trying to support their families.

“I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon that work is underway to design a new support mechanism for the self-employed. I recognise the difficulties in setting that up. But the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. These people need an urgent intervention to allow them to survive this next period and allow them to follow the advice to stay at home. Otherwise they will be forced into work, putting themselves and others at risk.

“This demands a resolution and quickly.”