Prime Minister rejects claim self-employed are not being supported

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The Prime Minister has rejected claims that the self-employed were not receiving support from the Government, as he defended the Chancellor’s “internationally competitive” Jobs Support Scheme.

Boris Johnson said the Government “will continue to put our arms around every worker” and that the £20-a-week uplift in universal credit will remain until April 2021.

It comes after Rishi Sunak announced that workers in pubs, restaurants and other businesses which are forced to close under new coronavirus restrictions will have two-thirds of their wages paid by the Government, up to a maximum of £2,100-a-month.

On the self-employed, Mr Johnson told the Commons on Monday: “The self-employed, which is a group that I think we all care about very much, have received so far £13.5 billion of support and we’ll continue to look after them as well.”

Mr Johnson rejected the claim by Green MP Caroline Lucas that three million self-employed people have had no support since March.

He said the Government’s financial support offered to businesses and workers unable to work due to restrictions is “generous by international comparison”.

Mr Johnson said: “In France, it is 60% for some, 70% for others, in Germany it is about the same, in Italy they have an 80% provision but a serious cap, or a very low cap, in Ireland it is down at 60%.

“This is a highly competitive scheme and it is one that I think is generous by international comparison.

He said businesses in England that have been made to close will also be able to claim cash grants of up to £3,000-a-month.

Campaigners believe as many as three million freelance and self-employed workers have been unable to claim on the Government’s support schemes due to various restrictions.

Tim Pravda, a Paye freelancer working in live events from West Sussex, said he has not been able to work since February and does not have an event booked until April next year.

“We’ve been falling through the cracks of everything since March”, Mr Pravda, 43, told the PA news agency.

Campaign group ExcludedUK said: “It continues to be the case that a huge number of individuals and small businesses, including a vast number of self-employed, have been unjustly excluded from any meaningful support since March.”

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