BORIS Johnson signalled tonight that crucial state aid for self-employed workers hit by the coronavirus crisis will be extended beyond this month.
Grants worth up to £7,500 to cover the last three months come to an end on Sunday and Rishi Sunak has so far failed to say whether he will extend the crucial lifeline to self-employed workers.
In contrast, he has promised wage support for furloughed workers for an extra five months – until the end of October.
But the Prime Minister told the daily coronavirus press conference that “you’ll be hearing more about” support for self-employed workers soon.
Mr Johnson also promised self-employed people who are forced into two weeks’ quarantine as part of the new Test and Trace programme will receive financial compensation from loss of income.
He said: “Those who face temporarily losing their income as a result of this will be helped”.
Last night 113 MPs from all parties including a string of senior Tories signed a letter to the Chancellor demanding he extends the self-employment scheme.
They warned that hundreds of thousands of self-employed people will be without work and without support from next week.
Mr Sunak was said to be weighing up how to extend support for the self-employed as he faces breaking a key Boris Johnson pledge to offer “parity of support” for them as employees.
A total of 2.3 million workers have now applied to the self-employment income support scheme at a cost of £6.8 billion.
Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, who organised the letter, said: “This scheme is a lifeline for millions of locked-down workers right across the country.
“There are already significant holes in the support, but removing what is already in place would pull the safety net from under the feet of millions of self-employed workers.
“How can it be right for the furloughed scheme to continue but this scheme to not?”
The letter says: Whilst some of our self-employed constituents may be able to return to work over the coming weeks and months, it remains likely that many will not. If the scheme does not continue, they will be left without work and without support.
“We are calling on you to ensure that this scheme is continued and to provide details of an extension as soon as possible.”
The Treasury said it was keeping the SEISS under review and pointed to Mr Sunak’s words in March when he said the scheme could be extended “if necessary”.
It said it was unfair to compare the self employment income support with the furlough scheme because self-employed people could still work while receiving grants.