RSA Future Work Centre: Coronavirus impact on the gig economy shows why the government needs a future of work strategy for all workers

Press release

Precarity stretches across the workforce

Commenting on the provisions outlined in today's Budget for the self-employed and gig economy workers, Alan Lockey, head of the RSA Future Work Centre, said:

"Rishi Sunak is right to roll-out a comprehensive package of support for low paid self-employed and gig workers. It is absolutely essential that people do not face a choice between feeding their family and taking measures necessary to protect us all from Covid-19, such as self-isolating.

"Time will tell if it is enough, but in pushing on existing policies – such as Universal Credit – rather than new schemes, the Chancellor has given himself the best administrative shot at roll-out, outreach and the flexibility to expand if necessary as the situation develops.

"More broadly, this shows why we need a fundamental reform of the welfare state for modern work. Fluctuating incomes and flexible working patterns are an important part of the 21st century labour market, but we are still trapped in the 20th century mindset which sees a small group of socially excluded people with low but stable incomes as the only target group for support. The Minimum Income Floor has been hurting low paid self-employed workers for years, its reform is long overdue. But in the long-term we need to look at policies like Universal Basic Income and portable benefits which can give flexible workers a minimum entitlement or safety net to fall back on in crises of any nature – financial, social or personal."




Alan Lockey, head of the RSA Future Work Centre, is available to discuss coronavirus and its impact on the gig economy and self-employed. Contact: [email protected], 07590 619 518.

For other press queries, contact Ash Singleton, [email protected], 07799 737 970.



The RSA Future Work Centre was set-up following RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor’s gig economy review for then Prime Minister, Theresa May. Matthew Taylor has subsequently retained his role as an advisor to the government on employment issues and good work, and is currently director of labour market enforcement as BEIS.  

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an independent charity which believes in a world where everyone is able to participate in creating a better future.    

Through our ideas, research and a 30,000 strong Fellowship, we are a global community of proactive problem solvers, sharing powerful ideas, carrying out cutting-edge research and building networks. We create opportunities for people to collaborate, influence, and demonstrate practical solutions to realise change.   

Our work covers a number of areas including the rise of the 'gig economy', robotics & automation; education & creative learning; and reforming public services to put communities in control. 


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