SNP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan has demanded that the UK Government “clarify now” what the support is that they are offering to self-employed people, after a “wave” of enquiries on this subject from concerned businesses in the Western Isles.

The UK Government has announced a Jobs Retention Scheme which would cover 80% of wages for employees who would otherwise have been laid off due to the economic impact of coronavirus. However, this scheme excluded the self-employed. Earlier this week, the Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for the scheme week to be expanded to include the self-employed.

So far, support to the self-employed has been limited to the following measures:

• Self-employed people affected by coronavirus can apply for Universal Credit or new style Employment Support Allowance.
• Self employed in financial distress may be eligible for Time to Pay measures from HMRC
• There is an HMRC helpline set up at 0800 0159 559
• Emergency support may also be available from the Scottish Welfare fund – more information and application forms can be found on the Comhairle’s website.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“The impact which the coronavirus is having on self-employed people is all too obvious. In the islands, where significant numbers are self-employed in sectors as varied as tourism, construction and fishing, the present uncertainty is causing a wave of businesses to get in touch with me. People are looking, very understandably, for some definitive answers soon.

“While the UK Government’s commitment to assist self-employed people is very welcome, we have reached the point where detail is required if we are to avoid real financial hardship for many people in the islands. I appreciate that at the moment we are all having to work at a breakneck pace, but I did watch Prime Ministers Questions today, and answers about assistance for self-employed people was very thin.

“I would now urge the UK Government to clarify as a matter of urgency what form their planned assistance will take, so that self-employed people across my constituency can start to plan how to cope with the current crisis as it affects them and their families.”

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