Lockdown Makes Support for Self Employed and Unemployed Even More Urgent

The SNP has pressed the UK government to introduce a financial package of support for self-employed and unemployed people “without further delay”.

Ian Blackford MP (pictured) wrote to the Chancellor on Saturday calling for an urgent cross-party meeting – but hasn’t had a reply.

The SNP Westminster Leader said the lockdown meant it was “even more urgent” that a financial package is introduced, with the SNP proposing four key measures:

Ensure everyone has a guaranteed income – using the tax and welfare system to put money directly in people’s pockets through a Universal Basic Income, reverse National Insurance, or another similar mechanism

Raise the UK’s Statutory Sick Pay rate to the EU national average – and expand entitlement for the self-employed and those under the earnings threshold

Include self-employed people in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – providing the same support for the self-employed as announced for employees

Strengthen welfare protections – increase Child Benefit and make Universal Credit more flexible.

SNP MPs Richard Thomson, Chris Stephens, Patrick Grady, David Linden and Stuart McDonald raised the issue in the House of Commons at today’s Treasury Questions, calling for the UK government to consider the SNP proposals.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:

“The coronavirus lockdown makes it even more urgent that the UK government delivers a comprehensive financial package of support for the millions of freelancers, self-employed and unemployed people who are struggling to get by in this unprecedented emergency.

“The SNP is calling for the Chancellor to use the tax and welfare system to introduce a guaranteed income for everyone, raise Statutory Sick Pay to the EU average, and strengthen welfare protections by increasing Child Benefit and making Universal Credit more flexible.

“While there are complexities in the Job Retention Scheme, there are many steps that could be taken this week without further delay – including increasing sick pay, improving social security support, and providing everyone with a guaranteed income.

“There is no good reason these moves should be put on hold when people are already in need.

“We must ensure the cross-party approach to this crisis continues.

“I would again urge political parties to get round the table to ensure all measures are considered and a meaningful financial package can be introduced as soon as possible.”