COVID-19 Update: March 27
SELF-EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME
Last night we finally got news from the government about support available for self employed people. The new scheme is broadly in line with what we were expecting, and gives similar support to that offered to employees. But I do have a number of concerns around the timing of the distribution of funds (not until June) and eligibility for the scheme. I am particularly concerned about people who have been self employed for less than a year, or whose profits were just over the £50,000, neither of whom will receive any support.
The Government says: "You can use this scheme if you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus. This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. "You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
traded in the tax year 2019-20
are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000.
If you have not submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, you must do this by 23 April 2020. My colleague Ed Davey, the Acting Leader for the Liberal Democrats, has responded today, saying, "I am hugely concerned about how long this will take to deliver. Many sole traders like taxi drivers, hairdressers and cleaners will not be able to wait until June."
We will continue to press government to ensure that no one falls through the safety net at this difficult time, and to ask for these gaps in provision to be addressed immediately.
RICHMOND PARK CLOSED TO CYCLISTS FROM TOMORROW, SATURDAY MARCH 28
Sadly, the meticulous efforts by so many residents to abide by social distancing rules have not been enough to keep Richmond Park a safe environment. Royal Parks announced today with regret that they are temporarily suspending cycling in Richmond Park from tomorrow. They say this is due to bottlenecks at the park entrances and cyclists not observing the two-metre distancing requirements.
Royal Parks do not have enough staff to manage the entrances and monitor compliance in the park, so they are banning cycling to try to enable people to continue to use the park on foot safely. They have said that children will still be able to cycle in the park, and they will provide more details on that soon. You can follow them on Twitter at @theroyalparks for up to the minute information.
RUNNERS AND CYCLISTS
I am getting a lot of calls from residents who feel they are put at risk by cyclists and runners who pass them at close range. Please remember that the two metre rule applies to you too, and don't pass close to other people using the parks and pavements.
With the roads nearly empty, cyclists should be able to stay well away from the pavements, and both runners and walkers will have the option of stepping off the pavement to let someone pass. (Obviously check the road visually before stepping into it!)
I have heard that this is a particular problem on Hammersmith Bridge. Please be patient and mindful when using the bridge and don't pass close to other users. TfL are looking at the possibility of opening the central span of the bridge to cycle traffic to alleviate the crowding.