PLAID Cymru’s Helen Mary Jones during a meeting of the virtual Senedd this week called for an emergency basic income as a safety net for those falling through the cracks of government assistance schemes during the Coronavirus crisis.
While specific Welsh funds such as the Economic Resilience Fund provide support for businesses, particularly small and medium sized firms, that is not available to companies in England – there are still many sole traders and other self-employed people who fail to qualify for the fund.
Mid and West Member of the Senedd (MS) Helen Mary Jones said:
“I called on the Welsh Government to consider the use of the discretionary assistance fund to provide an emergency basic income to some of those people who will be falling through the gaps, because we can’t make furlough schemes for everybody.
“I asked for an assessment of how many businesses and how many individual sole traders are falling through the gaps and how soon a new scheme might be able to be in place to support them.”
“The economic resilience fund doesn’t fit all firms, particularly those businesses that don’t register for VAT. I’m pleased the Welsh Government promised me in the Senedd that that will be kept under review. These very small businesses are ones who may have less put by, they may be more vulnerable and arguably may need help more quickly than larger businesses that might have more robust relationships with their banks.
“I accept that the Welsh Government is underfunded by an outdated funding formula. However I believe the Welsh Ministers with their limited resources should look to plug some of the gaps in the UK wide schemes with Wales-only schemes.”
Plaid Cymru research has estimated a safety net for the self-employed at median income would cost £247m for a whole month for the Welsh Government (with backdated payments to the 1st of March 2020).
The Welsh monthly median income for all 210,000 self-employed people in Wales could be matched to ensure they had a monthly payment of £1180. It would be paid to all self-employed.
This could be paid for through a mixture of drawing down Welsh Government fiscal reserves as well as borrow the funds.