135,000 self-employed have applied for income support

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, 135,000 self-employed people have applied for the income support offered by the government, according to the federal minister for small businesses, Denis Ducarme.

Income support of €1,500 a month was part of a package of measures announced by the government of Sophie Wilmès to ease the blow of the massive shutdown of business in the country. Some self-employed people, such as retailers, restaurant owners and cafe owners, were already compensated by a special premium paid to businesses forced to close.

The income support extends the hand to other types of self-employment, and the response has been enthusiastic.

“This measure will offer them a breathing space in financial terms, and is a response to calls from many independents,” Ducarme said.

“Based on an initial enquiry to the social insurance organisations, 135,000 self-employed people have already made an application for income support for the month of March,” a spokesperson for Ducarme explained. “But that number could still grow in the coming days.”

One of the organisations that represent the self-employed, UCM, made its own estimate.

“At national level, given that there are 720,000 people who are fully self-employed, there could be 150,000 applications,” a spokesperson said.

That would mean, UCM said, a total bill of €225 million a month for Inasti, the national institute for social insurance for the sector, based on a grant of €1,500 a month.

“A budget that is totally able to be absorbed by the treasury reserve held by Inasti, which is about €3 billion,” UCM said.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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