The Government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced at today’s press conference.

In a support package equal to that of the Jobs Retention Scheme – whereby the Government will compensate employers for 80% of wages for furloughed employees – the grants will have a pay-out limit of £2,500 a month, and will be open to anyone with trading profits up to £50,000, covering 95% of the self-employed population.

The scheme will be open to people for at least three months, and Sunak said he will extend it for longer should the pandemic continue.

To make sure only the genuinely self-employed benefit, grants will be made available to people who make the “majority” of their income from self-employment, and who have proof of a 2019 tax return.

Sunak promised that the scheme will be available no later than the beginning of June, and in the meantime has put in place a series of measures for people “struggling right now.”

These immediate measures include business interruption loans, a deferral of June income tax payments to January 2021, and a change in the welfare system to allow self employed people with a non-working partner to access up to £1,800 a month in universal credit.

“The scheme I’ve announced today is fair. It is targeted at those that need it most. And, crucially, it is deliverable,” he said.

“What we have done will, I believe, stand as one of the most significant economic interventions at any point in the history of the British state, and by any Government anywhere in the world.”

“Despite these extraordinary steps, there will be challenging times ahead. We will not be able to protect every single job, or save every single business, but I am confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of families, businesses, and self-employed people to get through this. Get through it together and emerge on the other side both stronger and more united.”