BORIS Johnson has said Britain as a country is “putting our arms around every single worker” as he faced repeated calls for the UK Government to urgently help the self-employed survive the coronavirus outbreak.

During a less populated and less pugnacious Prime Minister’s Questions than usual, Mr Johnson told MPs that Rishi Sunak would be announcing new measures to help the self-employed “in the next couple of days”. No 10 later said the Chancellor would be unveiling his plans tomorrow.

During PMQs, Mr Johnson referred to “parity of support” for the army of five million self-employed people, an estimated 320,000 of whom live and work in Scotland.

He stressed there were “particular complexities” about how to help them, which needed to be addressed.

"They are not all in the same position and all I can say is that we are working as fast as we possibly can to get the appropriate package of support for everybody in this country," explained the PM.

Earlier, during Scottish Questions, Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, revealed Mr Sunak had been looking at many schemes “across the EU and around the world” to see how best to help the self-employed.

During PMQs, Mr Johnson insisted the Government would do “absolutely everything it takes” to beat the virus and get the country through to the other side, telling MPs: “As a society and as a country we are doing a quite extraordinary thing; for the first time in our history to get through this crisis, we are putting out arms as a country around every single worker, every single employee…and it is a quite unprecedented step.”

Ian Blackford for the SNP called for the Government to support all the country’s workers and told the PM: “He said the UK is putting its arms around all our workers, I hope that that will become the case because as of today, it's not.

"This morning, the Resolution Foundation estimated that one in three people in self-employment, a total of 1.7m workers, are now at risk of losing their income. In Scotland, that means 320,000 self-employed people are deeply concerned about the jobs and the families they support."

The Highland MP emphasised how opposition parties wanted to work with the Government on the issue of help for the self-employed but he said there was “frustration because we've gone into lockdown and workers are without income; this is an emergency".

He continued: "As we stand here, people are losing their incomes. Telling them to wait another day simply isn't good enough."

Mr Blackford asked: "Can the Prime Minster confirm that when the Chancellor eventually does announce measures, there will be parity and equality of support between the already announced jobs retention scheme and the new scheme for the self-employed? They must not be left behind Prime Minister."

Mr Johnson said the SNP leader was making a very important point and declared: “I totally share his desire to get parity of support."

But, again, he pointed out: "There are particular difficulties with those who are not on PAYE schemes as…the whole House understands. We are bringing forward a package to ensure that everybody gets the support that they need."

Jeremy Corbyn also raised the issue of the self-employed in relation to construction workers and pointed out how building sites were "still operating, still working on non-emergency work despite the new rules" as he referenced a radio call from a self-employed construction worker who said he had contracted conornavirus but had "no other option but to get on the London tube and go onto a site to work".

He urged: "Can the PM be absolutely clear and give unequivocal guidance now that construction work on non-emergency work should stop now?"

In response, Mr Johnson said: "Everybody should work at home unless they must go to work", adding: "If company is continuing, then clearly they should do so in accordance with the guidance of Public Health England."

The PM stressed: "But what we're not doing, and this is fully in accordance with the scientific and medical advice, what we're not doing is closing down the whole UK economy."

Mr Corbyn noted: "The statutory sick pay level of £94.25 a week, which the Health Secretary admitted he couldn't live on, and despite promising he would ensure workers get the support they need, we've still not seen action on that.

"So, unless we increase statutory sick pay and give protection and access to benefits for those on zero hours contracts, then, the dangers we're all aware of, of people going into work or trying to work when they shouldn't is going to continue. We do need very urgent action on this," demanded the Labour leader.

Mr Johnson insisted the Government had provided "a serious response to the crisis".

Paying tribute to staff at the Department for Work and Pensions, he said: "We've increased Universal Credit by £1,000 a year; that will benefit four million people of the poorest families in the country."

In his final PMQs – his successor as leader will be announced on April 4 – Mr Corbyn issued a valedictory message about solidarity.

He told the House: "We need clarity not confusion, we need delivery not dither. This crisis shows us how deeply we depend on each other. We will only come through this as a society through a huge collective effort."

The PM Johnson said: "What this country is doing now is utterly extraordinary, we are coming together as a nation in a way that I have not seen in my lifetime to help to defeat a disease and to help save the lives of many thousands of our fellow citizens.

"We all understand that that would involve a sacrifice but we are gladly making that sacrifice."