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Property industry’s self-employed given same deal as employees – but they can still work

The sector's small army of self-employed agents, inventory clerks, maintenance freelancers and surveyors are to be given grants of up to £2,500 a month if they are struggling financially.

Nigel Lewis

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last night revealed that self employed workers are to receive the same deal as their directly employed counterparts.

The means the property industry’s army of self-employed workers including  sales and lettings agents, surveyors, inventory clerks, property finders and property maintenance freelancers can now breathe easier.

In a similar deal to furloughed employees, the self-employed will be paid 80% of their average monthly profits over the past three years up to £2,500 a month.

“That’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world,” said Sunak.

It is to last for three months and could be extended for longer if necessary, Sunak revealed.

But there is to be one crucial difference between the employee and self-employed schemes. Those working for themselves will be able to claim this grant but also continue to do business.

Furloughed company staff, on the other hand, cannot work for their company or even complete training.

Several other strings are attached. The scheme is not available to self-employed workers who earn over £50,000 and take a majority of their income from self-employment. The must also have a tax return for at least 2019/20.

The news will be most welcome among the growing army of self-employed sales and letting agents in the UK who work for company’s such as Purplebricks, Keller Williams, eXP UK, Accommodation.co.uk and Century 21, eMoov and many others and who are though to number of 2,000 people.

We approached two of the biggest estate agencies using self-employed staff, Purplebricks and Accommodation.co.uk for comment but both said they were still mulling what it meant for their business and agents, and said they wanted to see the detail of how the scheme would work before commenting.

Industry reaction

Hew Edgar, Head of RICS UK Government Relations & City Strategy, said: “Our self-employed members, surveyors working up and down the country, were telling us of their concern and worry about the lack of support for their businesses. However, the Chancellor’s announcement today – allowing them to access grants of up to £2,500 based on reported profits – now changes that completely.

“We at RICS are pleased the Chancellor has listened to the property industry and introduced this lifeline of financial protection for self-employed and freelance professionals.

“There are thousands of self-employed professionals in the built environment, who are just as vital to our economy as SME and large business, so this support will ensure then can continue to operate and contribute to the wider economy now and after this virus has been beaten.”

March 27, 2020

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