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25 March, 2020 Open access

Scottish Government calls for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be extended to the self-employed

Letter to Chancellor also urges him to make statutory sick pay more widely available and increase its value

The Scottish Government has called for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be extended to the self-employed.

In a letter today to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes welcome the 20 March 2020 announcement of the new scheme and other measures to support jobs and incomes during the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the Ministers go on to say that further action must be taken to support groups who, so far, have not been given sufficient support, and that two actions are urgently needed -

First, 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.

Greater support could also be offered by relaxing means-testing for universal credit to ensure that the self-employed, whether with savings or other household income, are not denied support.'

In addition, the Ministers say that there must be more action on sick pay to ensure that people follow essential health advice and, as a result, they urge the Chancellor to make statutory sick pay more accessible and increase its value so that it provides a far more effective safety net.

The text of the letter to the Chancellor from the Scottish Ministers is available from gov.scot