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‘More support for self-employed workers should be addressed’

Kate Forbes has written to the UK Chancellor calling for more action to be done to support self-employed.

The Scottish Government is demanding more support for self-employed workers impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes have written to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for the Jobs Retention Scheme he announced last week to be expanded to include the self-employed.

They also appealed for a change in the rules to enable more people to access statutory sick pay.

The letter said: “There are 330,000 self-employed workers in Scotland, they are critical to the economy, and they must not be left behind in the response to this crisis.

“In addition to support for the self-employed, we have been making the case that there must be more action on sick pay to ensure that people follow the essential health advice, and they know they will be supported in doing so.

“I urge you to change the rules so that more people can access statutory sick pay and its value is increased so it provides a far more effective safety net.

The removal of the minimum income floor is welcome, say Ms Hyslop and Ms Forbes, but there has to be a “more comprehensive version” of the jobs reterntion scheme to include the self-employed.

The pair pointed to Norway and Denmark where mechanisms and schemes are in place to cover the self-employed by covering lost incomes based on earnings in previous years.

They said: “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.

“Of course, we recognise the complexities in delivering an effective approach — even if you cannot set out all the details now, it is vital that you signal your intention to act and we will work with you to develop any immediate measures.”

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