Rishi Sunak preparing to wind down coronavirus furlough scheme from July (The Guardian)
Rishi Sunak is preparing to wind down the coronavirus wage-subsidy scheme for workers from July as part of government plans to gradually remove lockdown measures.
In a sign of the mounting costs to the exchequer with almost a quarter of employees in Britain furloughed in the past fortnight, the chancellor is expected to announce that the Covid-19 job retention scheme will be steadily scaled back as restrictions on business activity are lifted.
The Treasury is understood to be examining several options for tapering the scheme, including cutting the 80% wage subsidy paid by the state to 60% and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments.
Sources indicated that a final decision has yet to be made, but the Treasury was working closely with No 10 as Boris Johnson prepares to outline plans on Sunday to gradually lift lockdown restrictions.
Renters and self-employed hit hard by Covid-19 lockdown (The FT)
Research from the ONS has found that Sixty per cent of self-employed people saw their income fall between April 3 and April 30, compared with 22 per cent of employees. Over the same period almost a quarter of self-employed people (23 per cent) reported having to use savings to cover their living costs.
Meanwhile, a third of the self-employed reported having to work reduced hours during the first two weeks of lockdown, and a far greater proportion reported the closure of their place of work.
The ONS said that even when it analysed the data by controlling for differences in income, age and other characteristics, the self-employed had worse expectations for their household finances in the year ahead than employees.
Covid-19 sample couriers face redundancies after risking their lives during the pandemic (Morning Star Online)
Couriers who have been playing a vital role in transporting Covid-19 material during the pandemic are facing redundancies for their efforts, their union revealed today.
The 10 workers are employed in London by private pathology company The Doctors’ Laboratory (TDL) and are expected to be laid off in a month’s time, according to the Independent Workers of Great Britain union (IWGB).
The union said that one worker had raised health and safety problems, including a lack of protective wear, with the company.
TDL boss David Byrne is paid more than £1 million a year and the company’s profits exceeded £28m in 2019.
A Freelancer ‘boom’ amid the COVID-19 lockdown? (Tax Assist Accountants)
The number of professionals turning to freelance work during the coronavirus lockdown has risen four-fold, according to leading freelance platform PeoplePerHour.
PeoplePerHour has experienced an “unprecedented rise” in the number of professionals signing up to pitch for ad-hoc work, while demand for talent in specific areas has also risen as businesses battle to forge a way out of the lockdown without access to their furloughed staff.
Almost 100,000 sign-ups were registered on the PeoplePerHour site in the first 26 days of March, with similar numbers also likely to have appeared during April too.
London is the core of the freelance ‘boom’, with the capital experiencing almost a 500% rise in the number of freelancer sign-ups for gig work. That figure is over seven times higher than any other British city.
California sues Uber and Lyft over gig economy law (The FT)
California is suing Uber and Lyft in the most aggressive move yet to force the rideshare giants to reclassify their drivers as employees.
The state’s attorney-general, Xavier Becerra, who is backed by city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, has demanded “hundreds of millions of dollars” in unpaid wages and other penalties in a complaint filed on Tuesday.
In recent weeks, Uber has begun suggesting workers who are losing income from a drop in demand for rideshare could take up temporary positions at the likes of Amazon and 7-Eleven or, if they hold a commercial drivers’ licence, become truck drivers instead. But critics of the companies said coronavirus has amplified their concerns that the rideshare industry’s lofty valuations had been generated on the backs of underprotected workers.
“This is a big win for drivers,” said Carlos Ramos, a driver and organiser with the activist group Gig Workers Rising. “Billionaires like to pick and choose what laws they follow. Today California is showing that no one is above the law, not even big tech.”
Sadiq Khan announces emergency fund to help support London’s culture and creative industries (NME)
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a new emergency fund to help support London’s culture and creative industries during the coronavirus crisis.
As numerous cultural business, such as music venues, continue to struggle and even face closure as a result of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, the Mayor has stepped in to help alleviate the strain of the lockdown that’s being felt in these industries across London.
The Culture at Risk Business Support Fund, valued at £2.3 million, has been launched in co-ordination with the Music Venue Trust (MVT), the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, the Creative Land Trust and BFI to help multiple venues and artists in the capital.