Coronavirus: 'Support the self-employed' MSPs tell chancellor

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Kate ForbesImage source, Getty Images

The Scottish government is demanding more support for self-employed workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

As the country wakes up to lockdown, with shops ordered to shut and workers asked to stay at home, ministers have written to the chancellor.

MSPs Fiona Hyslop and Kate Forbes want Rishi Sunak to expand the jobs retention scheme to include self-employed staff.

And they want more people to access statutory sick pay.

In the letter, the economy and finance secretaries said they welcomed the "significant steps" taken on Friday with the announcement of the scheme and other measures to support jobs and incomes.

But they said it was vital the new scheme was set up quickly and that further action must be taken to support groups who, so far, have not been given sufficient support.

They said the goal should be a more comprehensive version of the jobs retention scheme that encompasses the self-employed.

In Norway and Denmark, wage support schemes have been extended to cover the self-employed by covering their lost incomes based on earnings in previous years.

Image source, Getty Images

The letter also called for the relaxing of means-testing for Universal Credit to ensure that the self-employed, whether with savings or other household income, are not denied support.

Scotland has about 330,000 self-employed workers.

The letter said: "I welcome the more regular ministerial contact that is now happening to support our collective response across the economy and public finances.

"I understand there will be both a finance ministers' and an economy ministers' quadrilateral discussion this week, which we will join for our respective interests. Our officials will also be speaking tomorrow and it is important that additional support for the self-employed is on the agenda for that discussion.

"We appreciate the scale of support, pace and increasing scope of interventions to date. I know you are considering more strategic support to key companies or industries and this is an area of importance for Scotland also and I trust we can work constructively on this area."