AS millions of workers grapple with the knock-on effects of the coronavirus lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce the details of a cash bailout for the self-employed today.
But the emergency wages aren't expected to be available until the end of May. Here's what we know so far.
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What time is Rishi Sunak's announcement about help for the self-employed?
The Chancellor is likely to explain the details of the bailout at the government's daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon which usually starts around 4:30pm/5pm.
Five million Brits – almost one in six of the workforce – work for themselves.
Some 1.7 million of them have already been left out of pocket by the crisis, the Resolution Foundation think-tank has warned.
But until the new scheme is established, they will be asked to go on Universal Credit.
What will the Chancellor be announcing today?
Mr Sunak is expected to reveal the tough news that the coronavirus bailout cash won’t be available for the self-employed for at least eight more weeks.
The scheme for the self-employed is not likely to be as generous as the bailout for employees, pledged last week, which will fund four fifths of wages.
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What do we know about the coronavirus bailout for the self-employed so far?
The self-employed coronavirus bailout will only apply to low and middle income earners to ensure the UK's most needy are prioritised.
An eligibility cap is expected to be set at around the median income level – £30,353 last year – meaning it will include cleaners, childminders and cab drivers but not high earning professions like lawyers or tech programmers.
It is possible the scheme's benchmark will be based on 2018-19 tax returns.
The Prime Minister told the Commons on Thursday it was his “desire to get parity of support” between the employed and self-employed.
But Downing Street sources instead say Mr Sunak’s guiding principle is “fairness” instead of parity.
What else has Rishi Sunak announced?
Last week, the Chancellor pledged to pay 80 per cent of employee wages up to £2,500 a month to stop them being laid off.
Support for the self-employed is not likely to be as generous.
Mr Sunak has also raised the job support element of Universal Credit to £94 a week, and introduced other emergency reliefs including deferring VAT, offering mortgage holidays, scrapping business rates and offering free loans for businesses.
The one year business rates holiday has been extended to all firms forced to close due to the coronavirus lockdown.
It means estate agents, hairdressers, furniture stores, sports shops and other businesses forced to shut down for at least three weeks will pay no rates until April 2022.
It is an extension of the one-year business rates holiday handed to retailers, pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and travel agents in last week’s announcement.
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