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Business & Economy

Self-employed coronavirus help “welcome step” in balancing economy, says R3 chief

Government measures to support self-employed workers during the coronavirus outbreak are welcome but people should still seek professional advice, an expert has urged.

Alexandra Withers, North East chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, said Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s fiscal package represents a “welcome, if limited, step” in balancing support across the economy.

Mr Sunak’s plan allows self-employed workers to apply for a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits to help tackle the financial impact of coronavirus.

However, the money – which will be capped to a maximum of £2500 a month, backdated to March 1 and be paid in a single lump sum – won’t begin arriving until June at the earliest.

Reflecting on the measures, Alexandra said “limitations stand out…(with) quite a few gaps in support” and called on those affected to seek immediate advice.

She said: “Even without the current coronavirus outbreak, self-employed people and sole traders often have unpredictable income levels, making it harder for many to save for a rainy day.

“The self-employed will have a sizeable gap to bridge between now and June when the help will actually be available. That could be too long to wait for those with no safety net.

“There are quite a few gaps in the support: for people who have only recently started working for themselves or who pay themselves through dividends, there may be no help at all.

“Anyone who is in financial difficulty or starting to see signs it may be around the corner should seek advice from a professional as soon as possible.

“The earlier you seek advice about your personal finances, the more considered a decision you can make, and the greater range of options you have for improving your situation.”

Mr Sunak’s support for the UK’s army of self-employed workers came after he last week pledged wage subsidies of 80 per cent for salaried employees.