The SNP has urged the UK government to deliver a financial package of support for self-employed and unemployed people – as the next step in its response to the economic impact of Coronavirus.
In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Ian Blackford reiterated support for measures for employees and businesses but urged the Chancellor to go further to ensure “no one is left behind”.
The SNP Westminster Leader called for an urgent meeting to discuss implementing support for the self-employed, unemployed and those in need of social security payments – and pressed the Chancellor to introduce four key measures:
- Ensure everyone has a guaranteed income – the simplest way to provide support for everyone, including self-employed and unemployed people, is to use the tax and welfare system to put money directly in people’s pockets through a Universal Basic Income, reverse National Insurance, or another similar mechanism
- Include self-employed people in the Coronavirus job retention scheme – providing the same support for the self-employed as announced for employees
- Raise the UK’s Statutory Sick Pay rate to the EU national average – and expand entitlement for the self-employed and those under the earnings threshold
- Strengthen welfare protections – increase Child Benefit and make Universal Credit more flexible with a range of practical measures.
The practical measures being proposed by the SNP to improve Universal Credit and other welfare support include:
- Introducing an immediate upfront payment (not hardship loan)
- Extending the backdating of benefits for those who might not have realised they were eligible and relaxing the criteria under which backdating is allowable
- Providing a new one-off hardship payment for self-employed people who are impacted
- Removing the 9-month qualifying period for support with mortgage interest, and providing a one-off grant for mortgage holders making new claims
- Removing the capital tariff reduction to Universal Credit when claimants have £16,000 in savings
- Removing the shared accommodation rate from the Local Housing Allowance, for both Universal Credit and Housing Benefit.
- Stopping the bedroom tax
- Uprating ESA and PIP
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “There are millions of self-employed and unemployed people struggling to get by in the face of coronavirus. They are under pressure and need to know we’ve got their backs.
“We welcomed the measures that have been introduced so far – but the self-employed and unemployed also need the security of a guaranteed income.
“The UK government must introduce a package of financial support for them to ensure no one is left behind.
“I’ve written to the Chancellor to request an urgent meeting over the weekend, or first thing Monday, to discuss the SNP’s proposals to introduce a guaranteed income for everyone, raise statutory sick pay to the EU average, and strengthen welfare protections.
“The Chancellor has listened so far and I urge him to get back round the table and consider the proposals from the SNP and others.
“We must do whatever it takes to ensure we support all our people in this unprecedented emergency.”