ARE you one of the many self-employed people living in Llanelli? The latest figures for Carmarthenshire show that are 15,700 self-employed people, making up just over 19 per cent of the workforce in the county.

While the help that has already been made available to businesses and to individuals by the UK and Welsh Governments is of course welcome, there are still too many self employed people falling through the cracks.

In the virtual Senedd that has been meeting over the web over the last few weeks I’ve put forward Plaid Cymru’s idea of a safety net for those self-employed not eligible for other government schemes

The people loosing livelihoods because they are being laid off and employers either can’t or won’t make use of government support.

The people, who have recently become self-employed, like the café owner in Carmarthen and have no tax records to show. The small scale tech start ups that are vital to the future of our economy. And such an emergency basic income could help support farming families at what is becoming for many a time of crisis.

Self-employed people can’t wait until June when they’ll get paid the support on offer from the UK Government.

We need some support that works for them now.Plaid Cymru’s call for emergency help for the self-employed would ensure everyone has guaranteed financial security for the duration of the Coronavirus crisis.

We know Westminster is not willing to act quickly enough, another example of why Westminster doesn’t work for Wales.

This is an opportunity for Welsh Government to do something really innovative and imaginative to help Welsh citizens most in need. We know we cannot rely on the Conservative government in London to solve all our problems even at such a time of acute need. Small and micro businesses are a much more important part of our economy than is true for much of England. We need Welsh solutions to meet their needs.

My email inbox is full of people contacting me because the current support just doesn’t work for them. Some of them are desperate. Given so many in Wales have little savings and given Universal Credit process can take up to 5 weeks for people to get money urgent access to cash is needed by many.

We estimate that Plaid Cymru’s 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).

We could match the Welsh monthly median income for all 210,000 self-employed people in Wales 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.

The Welsh Government at the moment feel the cost would be considerable, and would have to be implemented by the UK Government, but I was pleased that in the virtual Senedd earlier this month they were willing to discuss with us what could be done.

In times such as this, what we need now more than ever is an ambitious and innovative plan that gets to the heart of the issue. The patchwork of plans we have now is just not working.

An emergency basic income will ensure those self-employed individuals can pay their bills, put food on the table and feel secure in what is an unprecedented time.

While this would be temporary I believe Plaid Cymru’s safety net for the self-employed could become, in the long term, the basis for a more wide ranging scheme – a Universal Basic Income for all.

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