What is the government doing to help workers caught up in the coronavirus shutdown?

With the UK on lockdown and many businesses shut, hundreds of thousands of people across the country require financial help.

In order to prevent businesses going under, and to prop up salaries of workers who have suddenly become unable to work, this is what the government has pledged:

For salaried workers - the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • Any employer in the UK eligible via HMRC

  • Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month.

  • This is intended to cover workers whom their employer is unable to pay, or are unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak.

  • They will become "furloughed" and should not be working while under the scheme.

  • Scheme will cover wages lost backdated to March 1

  • Scheme will last until the end of June, with potential to be extended.

  • Mr Sunak said there were unlimited funds available for this scheme.

  • The scheme has now opened, here's everything you need to know about it

For freelancers and the self-employed - the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

  • The self-employed who are struggling to get work can apply for this scheme and will receive up to £2,500 per month for at least three months.

  • It is open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in the last tax year, or the same amount as an average of the past three tax years.

  • To be eligible, more than half of someone's income must come from self-employment.

  • HMRC will contact those eligible with guidance on how to apply for the scheme.

  • The scheme will cover the three months to May and the chancellor has said 95 per cent of all self-employed workers will be covered by the scheme, which is expected to be "up and running" by June.

  • Grants will be paid in a single lump-sum instalment covering all three months and will start to be paid at the beginning of June.

Not everyone is able to work from home. Credit: ITV News

What should freelancers and the self-employed do before June?

  • Before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus including an extended universal credit service and business continuity loans, where they have a business bank account

  • The minimum income floor for Universal Credit is to be suspended, meaning all those who are self-employed can access Universal Credit at the rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees - currently £94.25 a week.

  • Also, the self-employed will not have to make any further payments on their self-assessment tax return until 2021.

Universal Credit and tax credit boost

  • The standard Universal Credit allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic allowance are both being increased by £1,000 a year.

  • New claimants won't need to prove "gainful self-employment" if they are self employed and applying for Universal Credit.

  • Claimants who have Covid-19 or are self-isolating can receive advance payment upfront without having to go to a jobcentre.

  • "Together these measures will benefit over four million of our most vulnerable households," Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, but warned the UK is already seeing job losses.

The coronavirus lockdown has left many people across the country unable to work. Credit: ITV News

Small businesses "micro loans scheme"

  • Small businesses are eligible for new loans worth up to £50,000 that are 100 per cent guaranteed by the government

  • Businesses can apply for loans for 25 per cent of their turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

  • There's a flat interest rate on the loans of 2.5%, and the loan can be repaid over six years.

  • The "micro loans scheme" announced by the Chancellor is intended to help smaller firms access credit quickly, with loans arriving "within 24 hours of approval".

  • Firms can apply for the loans from 9am on Monday 4 May

Small and medium businesses - the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • An interest-free loan scheme has been extended from six months to 12 months.

  • The scheme starts on Monday March 23.

  • The next quarter of VAT payments due from companies at the end of March has been deferred until the end of June.


  • A £1.25 billion package is being launched to help protect the UK’s innovation sector during the coronavirus emergency and will include a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies hit by the crisis, while small and medium-sized firms specialising in research and development will be eligible for access to £750 million of grants and loans.

  • The funding would come from both the Government and private sector, he said.

  • The £500 million Future Fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the government, with private investors at least matching the Whitehall commitment.

  • The loans will convert to equity if not repaid.

  • To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last five years.

For renters and homeowners

  • After announcing mortgage "payment holiday" for three months for homeowners last week, Mr Sunak announced a £1 billion package to support renters by increasing the housing benefit under Universal Credit.

  • Recipients would receive welfare to pay at least 30 percent of market rents for their local area.

  • Stops short of a rental pause.