West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has urged the Government to produce a package of support for self-employed workers in the West Midlands.
The Mayor, who used to run department store chain John Lewis, has been speaking to ministers directly regarding the need for extra financial support, and has called on them to release details of a package as soon as possible.
He has suggested the financial support could take the form of rebates or grants based off past tax returns, allowing the self-employed to claim a proportion of their previous earnings – similar to the guarantee given to those workers employed by businesses.
Andy Street said: “The Government and the Chancellor have acted incredibly quickly and decisively to support businesses during these challenging times, and I know companies across the region are now able to stay afloat and keep workers in jobs thanks to these measures.
"Government officials have evidently taken on board the feedback from the region’s weekly economic contingency group.
“However there is another area that needs addressing, and that is the financial support that can be given to the self-employed. We have hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers across the West Midlands - such as tradespeople, musicians, and performers - who do fantastic work and are a cornerstone of our economy.
"But currently they are only being offered the equivalent of statutory sick pay through Universal Credit, compared to workers employed by businesses having 80% of their salary guaranteed.
“I know Government will want to move swiftly to address this, and I am personally pressing the case to ministers.
"The Chancellor talked last week about needing to use existing systems to make this work, so my suggestion would be to offer tax rebates or grants to the self-employed based off previous tax returns.
“The economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic will be far more severe than the financial crash of 2008, but they will not be as long-lasting. We therefore need to do everything we can to bridge this gap and make sure our economy is well placed to recover.”