- The government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years.
- The grant will be open to people with trading profits of up to £50,000 ($60,800)
- Pressure had grown on the government to act to help self-employed people.
- Last week, the government said it would pay up to 80% of the wages (to a maximum of £2,500 a month, around $3,000) of workers kept on by employers in a bid to prevent redundancies.
The U.K. government has announced emergency measures to help self-employed people, after facing intensifying pressure to match the financial aid offered to other workers.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday that the government would pay self-employed people a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years. The grant will be open to people with trading profits of up to £50,000 ($60,800).
He announced details of the income support scheme after conceding many workers were still "deeply anxious about the support available for them."
"To you, I say this, you have not been forgotten. We will not let you behind. We all stand together," Sunak said in a press conference.
It comes after building pressure on the government to act to help self-employed people, many of whom have seen their work dry up amid a national lockdown, due to the coronavirus outbreak, that has restricted social gathering to no more than two people, confined many people to their homes and shut down all non-essential businesses.
Speaking at a daily press conference, Sunak said the scheme had been difficult to deliver in practice, given the self-employed were a "diverse" population, "with some people earning significant profits."
"To make sure only the genuinely self-employed benefit, it will be available to people who make the majority of their income from self-employment. And to minimize fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply," he said.
Sunak claimed 95% of people who are majority self-employed would benefit from the scheme.
Facing the prospect of mass lay-offs because of the economic standstill caused by the virus, the U.K. finance minister announced last week that the government would pay up to 80% of the wages (to a maximum of £2,500 a month, around $3,000) of those workers kept on by employers, in a bid to stop them making redundancies.
As of Thursday, the U.K. had reported 9,962 cases of the coronavirus, with 467 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.