MILLIONS of British, self-employed workers will have to wait until the end of May to get emergency wages from the government.
Rishi Sunak will reveal today the harsh news that coronavirus bailout cash won’t be available for them for at least eight further weeks.
In a bid to help the nation’s most needy, We can also reveal the Chancellor will target the emergency help at lowest and middle earners only.
The bittersweet pill comes as Mr Sunak unveils his long-awaited package of support for the nation’s bosses.
An earnings cap is expected to be set at around the average income level – £30,353 last year – meaning it should include the likes of childminders and taxi drivers but not the highest-earning professions like lawyers or tech programmers.
One likely option that was being explored last night is to use January’s tax return for the financial year running from 2018-19 as the new scheme’s benchmark.
It comes a just week after the Treasury’s boss bailed out employees across the country by pledging to pay 80 per cent of employees up to £2,500 a month to stop them being laid off.
But Downing Street sources last night said the same flat offer to fund four-fifths of the self-employed workers’ income would not be replicated for them to many peoples dismay.
There were fears in the Treasury that Boris Johnson had “talked up” Mr Sunak’s package too much while answering MPs’ questions yesterday.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told the Commons that it was his “desire to get parity of support” between the employed and self-employed.
But Downing Street sources instead have suggested Mr Sunak’s guiding principle was “fairness” instead of parity.
One government member said: “No matter how we do this, there will be people who fall through the gap. What matters most is we get money to those who need it the most as quickly as we can”.
Better off earners are instead judged to have nest eggs tucked away that they can delve into for short-term support although this isn’t always the case.
Five million Brits – almost one in six of the workforce – work for themselves, leaving a hole in quite a few pockets across the country.
Around 1.6 million of them are already out of pocket by the crisis, the Resolution Foundation think-tank warned yesterday.
But until the brand new system is up and running, they will be asked to go on Universal Credit to make up payments that would have otherwise been earned.
The Chancellor will also outline how he last week hiked the job support element of the benefit to £94 a week, as well as point to the series of other gigantic emergency reliefs he has put in place, including deferring VAT, mortgage holidays, scrapping business rates and free loans for businesses.
Insiders also yesterday claimed the new self-employed bailout has been “incredibly difficult” to set up, and there were also serious concerns about designing a system that took away the incentive to work.