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Covid-19: Support for the Self-employed - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:54 pm on 24th March 2020.

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Photo of The Earl of Courtown The Earl of Courtown Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 2:54 pm, 24th March 2020

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, for her question. Her Majesty’s Government are looking at all options for how we take this forward. Specifically for freelancers and the self-employed, at the moment we are doing it through the welfare system, which will benefit from changes made on 20 March, such as the £20 increase in the UC standard allowance and the uprating of local housing allowance. We are also temporarily relaxing the minimum income floor for all self-employed UC claimants for the duration of the outbreak. This means that a drop in earnings due to sickness or self-isolation, or as a result of the economic impact of the outbreak, will be reflected in claimants’ awards. Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolation will also be eligible for contributory employment and support allowance, as announced in the Budget; that is now payable from the first day of sickness. This package will enable self-employed people to claim welfare close to statutory sick pay.

The noble Baroness mentioned another issue, to which I do not have the answer. I will arrange for her to be written to on that.