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Scottish Government calls for more support for self-employed

Fiona Hylsop - Image credit: Holyrood/David Anderson

Scottish Government calls for more support for self-employed

The Scottish Government is calling on the UK Government to provide more support for self-employed people affected by coronavirus.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for the jobs retention scheme he announced last week to be expanded to include the self-employed.

They also asked for a change in the rules to enable more people to access statutory sick pay and Universal Credit.

The letter says: “Action must be taken to provide more support for the self-employed.

“The removal of the minimum income floor is welcome, but it does not go far enough.

“As the Resolution Foundation set out today, the goal should be a more comprehensive version of the jobs retention scheme that encompasses the self-employed.

“The action taken in other countries suggest there are credible mechanisms that can support the self-employed.

“In Norway and Denmark, wage support schemes have been extended to cover the self-employed by covering their lost incomes based on earnings in previous years.”

They also suggested a relaxing of means testing to ensure that the self-employed or those with savings or other household income were not denied support.

They added: “There are 330,000 self-employed workers in Scotland, they are critical to the economy, and they must not be left behind in the response to this crisis.

“In addition to support for the self-employed, we have been making the case that there must be more action on sick pay to ensure that people follow the essential health advice, and they know they will be supported in doing so.

“I urge you to change the rules so that more people can access Statutory Sick Pay and its value is increased so it provides a far more effective safety net.”

The two Scottish ministers said they appreciated the greater ministerial contact that is now happening and “stand ready” to work with the Chancellor on a package of support.

“We appreciate the scale of support, pace and increasing scope of interventions to date," they said.

“I know you are considering more strategic support to key companies or industries and this is an area of importance for Scotland also and I trust we can work constructively on this area."

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