SOLE traders and freelancers across York and North Yorkshire have been taking stock of the Government's latest rescue package for workers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday announced measures to support self-employed workers who will have to wait more than two months until the new income protection scheme is operational.

For some it will be a long time to try and stay afloat with little additional protection except the offer of a temporary tax deferral and loans until the new scheme starts from the beginning of June.

Scores of self-employed people have seen their income streams collapse following the lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

They include entrepreneurs, childminders, mobile hairdressers, plumbers, photographers, taxi drivers and musicians.

The Treasury has taken longer to devise a support package for this group of workers, due to the complexities involved with such a disparate group.

A new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is on offer, where business dealing with the impacts of coronavirus can apply for a three- month extension to file their accounts with Companies House, allowing you to prioritise more pressing issues and avoid a late penalty.

The government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month. This is initially for at least three months. They will be able to claim these grants and continue to do business.

"It’s only open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, who make a majority of their income from self-employment. To minimise fraud only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019 can apply," said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Mike Cherry said the deal was not perfect, but would give much-needed support to many.

"This bold support package from the government will give much-needed help to vast numbers of self-employed workers, guaranteeing 80 per cent of income to those affected, with earnings of up to £50,000.

“This is a time of national emergency, and it is very welcome that the Government has listened to FSB and responded with a multi-billion-pound package to support the most financially vulnerable entrepreneurs, and to do so through the self-assessment system.

“This follows help in the Budget and since, that was aimed squarely at small businesses such as a cut in the jobs tax, cover for small employers that cannot pay their employees, business rates holidays, cash grants, mortgage holidays, rent protections, and interest-free, fee-free loans. We hope the raft of support will keep as many small businesses as possible afloat.

“The self-employed, however, remained a glaring gap. They needed more help, and especially those with least resources to prepare for this storm. We have heard despairing stories from hard-working hairdressers, bakers, childcare providers, freelancers, drivers and many others, seeing the businesses they’ve spent years building dry up in a matter of days.

“The self-employed community underpins the UK economy. They are the individual risk-takers who don’t expect the same benefits as employees.

“Many tax-paying self-employed who will be helped by today’s measures will be relieved. Although the deal is not perfect, the Government has moved a long way today.

“This is an incredibly challenging situation for everyone. While the healthcare response is paramount, overcoming the economic disruption also requires a speedy response in the interests of jobs and future growth.

"Today’s announcement will give hope to many hard-working, self-employed entrepreneurs, and it is important that the scheme is ready on-time and delivered as soon as possible. As this will be run through self-assessment, it is vital that any late filers submit their 2018-2019 return, right now, or they risk missing out.”

Dave Innes, Head of Economics for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:“The Chancellor is right to recognise the importance of supporting each other during these difficult times, and focussing on self-employed people on low and middle incomes is an important way of doing this.

"JRF has been calling for help for people losing their incomes, and the self-employed income support scheme goes a long way towards meeting that need.

“Self-employed people need to be able to weather the storm for themselves and their families when they are not able to work. It’s also crucial to ensure that people with limited or no savings aren’t forced to go out to work because of the length of time it will take to get this system up and running.

“Our social security system should offer a public service to all of us when we need it, but relying on it may not be adequate to keep people out of poverty and could mean further delays, and advances which will need to be paid back.

“Our shared values demand that everyone should have the financial lifeline they need whether they are on a salary or self-employed. The government must build on their commitments to help and ensure that funds reach those who need them in time to keep families on low incomes going.”