Aid for self-employed ‘huge relief’ for construction sector

Self-employed workers can now apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits amid the Coronavirus crisis.

Digger on a construction site

The support package for the self-employed announced by the Chancellor is a “welcome relief” for the thousands of self-employed workers in the construction industry, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that self-employed workers can apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits to help them cope with the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis.

The money – up to a maximum of £2,500 a month – will be paid in a single lump sum, but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest.

Sunak told the self-employed: “You have not been forgotten.”

The announcement follows criticism of the government failing to provide support for self-employed and freelance workers in its earlier package of economic measures.

The industry has also collectively urged the PM to consider the impact of the outbreak on construction workers, as many sites remain open across the UK.

The British Safety Council has called for clearer guidance from the government on building sites amid the Coronavirus crisis – with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn echoing concerns at his final PMQs.

However, Brain Berry, CEO of the FMB, said the Chancellor’s announcement will allow construction workers to breathe a “collective sigh of relief” knowing they will be protected in the same way as employees if they lose work due to COVID-19.

“I am delighted that the Chancellor has heeded our calls to be generous with his offer to the self-employed, who make up almost 40% of those working in the construction industry,” Berry said.

“Building companies will now also be able to close sites to protect workers and public health without having to worry about the losses faced by self-employed workers on those sites.

“We now urge the Treasury and HMRC to ensure that all support packages are up and running as soon as physically possible,” he added.

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