CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak will today set out new measures to help Britain’s army of five million self-employed people after Boris Johnson insisted the UK Government was “putting its arms around people” in an unprecedented way to help them get through the coronavirus crisis.

In recent days, Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak have come under intense pressure to set out a package for the self-employed after offering a package of help for employees, including a guarantee of paying 80 per cent of their wage, up to £2,500 a month, if they cannot work because of the pandemic. The Chancellor is expected to unveil his new measures at the daily Downing St briefing.

During a less populated and less pugnacious Prime Minister’s Questions than usual, Mr Johnson referred to “parity of support” for the self-employed, who include an estimated 320,000 people living and working 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 the Chancellor 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.”

Later at the daily Downing St press conference, he referred to how “never in our history has the Government put its arms around people in the way we are doing now to help them get through this difficult time”.

In the Commons, 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, appearing at his last PMQs as Labour leader, 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 coronavirus 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."