ORKNEY and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has called for urgent action to support self-employed incomes hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carmichael has joined a cross party group of MPs in writing a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak over the “lack of action” for the UK’s five million self-employed people.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has launched legal action against the government over the discrepancy in treatment between employees and other workers, arguing that the job retention scheme discriminates against the self-employed.
Carmichael said: “In Orkney and Shetland we have a massive number of people who are self-employed and who are now massively worried about what the future holds for them. Support for people in employment is welcome and generous but the self-employed cannot be left behind.
“As well as farmers, crofters, fishermen and tradespeople, we have built a strong, diverse and distinctive tourism offer over the past decades.
“Self-employed tourist guides, craftspeople, food and drink manufacturers and many others are integral to that offer. If they are allowed to go out of business now, then when tourism returns, the offer for visitors will be poorer and less distinctive.
“The objections from the Treasury are that this is ‘difficult’ and they could end up giving money to people who do not need it.
“That did not seem to worry them when we bailed out the banks but even if it is, for years we have paid self-employed people in tax credits and clawed it back later if it was necessary. We should be proceeding on the same basis now.”
Carmichael added that many people who were self-employed today were self-employed because “they were encouraged by successive governments to take that step.”
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