MPs challenge Treasury over Covid support gaps

A cross-party group of MPs is pushing the Treasury to ‘right a historic wrong’ by offering financial support packages for an estimated three million people who have not be able to access other Covid-19 schemes since the beginning of the pandemic

The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on gaps in support is campaigning for help for a number of categories of workers MPs say have fallen between the cracks of the schemes announced by the Chancellor since March of last year.

These include the newly self-employed, who have not filed a 2018/19 tax return by the date required for application to the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS), or earned more than £50,000 or under half their income from self-employment.

Others who have faced difficulties in getting support are seasonal workers who have been refused furlough despite being eligible; limited company directors; and new mothers and fathers who made use of parental leave over the past three years.

When government announced new restrictions at the beginning of the year, gaps in support APPG chair Jamie Stone said: ‘These new restrictions may be necessary, but they will leave more than three million people without any income or support once more.

‘It is an injustice that, as we enter our third national lockdown, that government still refuses support for the self-employed and those who have been wrongfully denied furlough. Without help, it will be much more difficult for these people to follow the new rules.

‘The government must now bring forward financial help for excluded groups. It is not fair to be locked up and locked out of support.’

Earlier this month, the group’s co-chair Tracy Brabin presented a 10 Minute Rule Bill on plans to help those who have been left out of financial support schemes since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Bill, which passed first reading and will go to second reading on 29 January, would require the government to 'undertake an assessment of any gaps in financial support provided to individuals, businesses and industries over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic; to require the government to report to Parliament on steps it intends to take in connection with any such gaps'.

The APPG, which has around 260 MPs as members, has outlined its own proposals for addressing the shortfalls in support it has identified. 

These include making previously excluded self-employed groups eligible for the next round of SEISS or a one-off grant of either £7,500 for the long-term self-employed or £3,500 for newer entrants.

Company directors would receive either a one-off grant of £7,500 or be able to claim under a new system similar to SEISS and dubbed the ‘directors income support scheme’.

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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