Southend councillor urges MP to support sick pay for self employed

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A councillor in Southend has written to the MP for Rochford and Southend East to urge him to support legislation that will allow self-employed people affected by coronavirus to receive 80 per cent of their monthly earnings.

The appeal from Labour councillor Matt Dent is for Conservative MP James Duddridge to support a change to the government’s Coronavirus Bill so that self-employed workers, who make up around 15 per cent of the UK’s workforce, are supported.

The amendment to the bill was put forward by the House of Commons Public Bill Committee and if it is accepted it compels the government to provide freelance and self-employed people to receive guaranteed earnings of 80 per cent of their monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years. Alternatively, they could be given £2,917 per month, whichever amount is lower.

In the letter addressed to Mr Duddridge, Cllr Dent said a large number of residents had contacted him to raise serious concerns about the impact COVID-19 will have on their livelihood.
“This safety net would be greatly appreciated by the residents that I represent, and I would ask that you support it in the spirit of a cross-party response to this unprecedented crisis,” it continues..

“A number of those I have spoken to have mentioned to me that even this would fall short of matching the income they are used to, particularly those who have been growing their businesses (and hence whose income at present would be expected to be higher than three years ago) and investment in technology to enable them to continue to work remotely.

“Therefore, I would also ask that as well as supporting this amendment, you look to support any which would be more generous, such as taking into account changes of circumstances that would significantly affect or skew net earnings…
“These are people with lives, with families, with hopes and dreams, and we cannot fail to support them.”

Calls to support self-employed workers have come after the government promised to pay 80 per cent of salary staff who are kept on by their employers, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the “unprecedented” measure would stop workers being laid off due to the crisis.

Mr Duddridge said: “Many constituents have written to me on this issue and I have fed this into fellow Ministers at the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer is due to make a statement on what more is being done. As a Minister I am working long hours behind the scenes, feedback from constituents is invaluable.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter

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