The TUC has called on the government to provide urgent aid to Britain’s five million self-employed workers. A new report published today says the current measures in place for self-employed workers are “inadequate” with many facing severe hardship over the coming months.

The report calls on ministers to extend the wage subsidy scheme announced on Friday to the self-employed. The TUC says this could be done through providing the self-employed with a guarantee of at least 80% of their incomes based on their last three years of self-assessment tax returns.

This could be paid directly to the self-employed as a tax rebate. The report highlights the example of Norway where the government is providing grants covering 80% of self-employed workers’ earnings. And Belgium where an income replacement scheme has been set up for the self-employed.

Commenting on the report TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said “The government took a big and important step last week with wage subsidies for employed workers.”

“But millions of self-employed workers – from the creative industries to construction – are still facing a collapse in their earnings. Many won’t be able to meet their basic living costs without further support. Ministers must urgently beef up support for the self-employed.

“Large-scale wage subsidies are the best way to boost household finances, keep businesses running and help our economy bounce back after this crisis. All workers – both employed and self-employed – should have their wages protected.”

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said “Over the weekend we have heard from thousands of self-employed people – including hairdressers, bakers, childcare providers, taxi drivers and café owners – many frightened and in despair at seeing their business fall away, and staring at the prospect of little or no financial support.”

“While it is welcome that the government has pledged to cover 80 per cent of the wages of impacted employees, five million self-employed strivers have until now only been offered, at best, access to £94 a week. In desperation, many have attempted to apply for Universal Credit after Friday and have been turned down.”

“These are people who have worked hard to build up their businesses, paid their taxes and helped the economy to grow. They now face a crunch point, with many unable to operate – leaving them without money, but with bills still stacking up.”

“We have been strongly urging the government not to allow the self-employed to be left high and dry, and it is welcome to hear that the Prime Minister is listening and offering new hope. This must now be turned urgently into practical and easily accessible support. Time is now running out.”

“While the government has a big role to play, it is also vital that the banks play their part as well. Billions of pounds of loan guarantees come into effect, the banks must pass on without delay this access to finance for the struggling self-employed.”