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The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is expected to announce that the taxpayer will pay self-employed workers up to 80% of their recent earnings to help contain the economic impact of coronavirus, as 470,000 extra benefits claims sparked warnings of an “unemployment crisis”.

Sunak has been under growing pressure to do more for the UK’s 5 million self-employed after announcing an unprecedented job retention scheme for employees last Friday, that will see thousands paid to stay at home …

Details of the support package were still being finalised last night, but sources with knowledge of the plan suggested it would echo the promise of covering 80% of recent earnings that Sunak made to employees last week.

It could be subject to a lower cap than the £2,500 in monthly pre-tax income available in that scheme, however – because the self-employed tend to pay less tax. Some groups, including those already claiming universal credit, could be excluded.

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