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The RSA Emergency Basic Income scheme: Cash now for the self-employed

Policy briefing

  • Future of Work
  • Economics and Finance
  • Employment

This is part of the RSA’s series of short policy briefings on how to respond to the coronavirus now and build bridges to a better future as part of the recovery.

The government has announced that self-employed workers will be able to access a scheme similar to their plans for the employed, granting them 80% of recent earnings. RSA analysis finds that this does not go far enough, and calls for a basic income to ease the burden on those suffering from economic insecurity:

  1. The self-employed need emergency cash now. The government’s plan for the self-employed is slow, bureaucratic, and will take months to have an impact.
  2. A body of evidence exists which suggests that a basic income could reduce poverty and inequality. We are calling for an immediate cash grant of £1,500 per individual, with £100 subsequent weekly payments for the next three months.
  3. On top of a basic income, statutory sick pay should be doubled and available to all those whose income is primarily from self-employment.
  4. The lowest-paid three-quarters of the self-employed would benefit from the RSA scheme. The RSA scheme most benefits self-employed workers earning beneath £20,000 when compared with an 80% income replacement scheme.

pdf 904.7 KB


Picture of Anthony Painter
Chief Research & Impact Officer, RSA

Picture of Alan Lockey
Head of the RSA Future Work Centre and Associate Director

Picture of Fabian Wallace-Stephens
Senior Researcher, Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing

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