CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has unveiled a rescue package enabling self-employed workers to claim up to £2,500 a month.

Anyone who is self-employed and has been affected by the coronavirus crisis will be able to claim a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits.

The chancellor, speaking at yesterday's Downing Street press conference, told the self-employed: "You have not been forgotten."

He addressed the nation as the number of people to die of coronavirus in the UK rose to 475.

In Dorset there are nine new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the county's total to 38.

Twenty three of these cases are in the Dorset Council area, with 15 cases confirmed in the BCP Council area.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock says a total of 560,000 members of the public have now answered the government's call for volunteers to aid the NHS.

On the measures introduced for the self-employed, Mr Sunak said the grants would remain available across the UK for at least three months.

He also said this timescale would be increased if necessary.

However, the money – to be paid in a lump sum – will not start to arrive until at least the start of June.

Closer to home, BCP Council's business rates team are currently working to process the guidance set by government on the grant and business rate relief schemes.

And the council has reiterated central government guidance for employers who have workers on site – that they should ensure, where possible, people maintain a two-metre distance from one another.

Yesterday, as tougher new police powers were being finalised to help enforce social distancing measures, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill announced he would be staying on in office until the postponed crime commissioner elections in May 2021.

Mr Underhill said: "I have now decided, in conjunction with the chief constable and my own team, that I will continue serving for another year.

"We are in the midst of an unprecedented, generation-defining moment – one in which policing will serve a crucial role and in which the service provided by our incredible officers, staff and volunteers will be more vital than ever before.

"These next few days and weeks will also see the police using new powers and having to do something they have never previously taken responsibility for – enforcing a lockdown to ensure the coronavirus does not spread and the public are kept safe.

"As forces use these new powers, PCCs and their offices will also take on the critical role of scrutinising exactly how they are doing so."