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.
The Brussels Times