Rishi Sunak's Economic Plan Does Nothing To Help Freelancers, New Starters and Some Women On Maternity Leave, MPs Say
Rishi Sunak’s winter economic plan leaves up to three million people without any specific job support and risks significant unemployment, MPs and economic experts have claimed.
Freelancers, new starters and some women on maternity leave have not had ‘one penny piece’ from the government in six months, the SNP’s economic spokeswoman Alison Thewliss said to the Chancellor as she claimed the new support package still does nothing to help this group of people.
“There’s nothing here, nothing whatsoever, for those that have been excluded from existing support schemes,” she said.
“The freelancers, the ‘forgotten limited’, the PAYE, the new starters, the women on maternity, all of those who have not one penny piece from this government for six months. He cannot say he does not know this is a problem although he still refuses to meet with them.
“How dare he say these three million people should be left high and dry with nothing.”
The Chancellor responded that there had been a temporary increase in universal credit welfare and enhanced support for the most vulnerable. He also referenced a a hardship fund for those struggling to pay council tax bills and said research had shown their financial help so far had made the most difference to those on the lowest incomes.
The Liberal Democrats also said they had deep concerns about the three million people who are tax payers but who have not had financial support.
Their treasury spokesperson, Christine Jardine MP, asked: “What about the three million who have no support for six months and will still be excluded from financial help.
“Where are the job creation plans to tackle unemployment?”
Among those who the group Excluded UK say have been missing out on support are the newly self-employed, those earning less than 50 percent income from self-employment, the self-employed with £50k plus in trading profits, PAYE freelancers and anyone made redundant before March 19. The 'forgotten limited' are small limited company directors who have not been eligible for self-employment income support.
Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Tory MP Mel Stride, said many self-employed people fell through the gaps of the support provided previously and he asked Sunak if he would look at specifically helping that group of people in the new measures. Sunak suggested that the government's income tax self-assessment deferral scheme could help.
Jacqueline Harthill, a self-employed owner of the Bristol-based The Happy Parents’ Club said the measures today have not helped people in her position.
She said: “The recently self-employed have once again come away from another major government statement empty-handed. It’s mind-boggling how millions of self-employed people have been left to fend for themselves.
“Once you've exhausted your savings, which many self-employed already have, the next step is defaulting on the mortgage, followed by homelessness and, ultimately, a much poorer society. The millions of people who have fallen through all the cracks in the support packages to date will be suffering financially, physically and emotionally for many, many years to come."
Director for the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, tweeted that the changes announced by the Chancellor – ending the furlough scheme and shifting to a wage top up scheme - are significant.
He wrote: “This is a v big change from furlough. Less generous. Only open to those who are working a third of normal hours. Understandable given need to adapt as economy changes. Can't pay all wages forever. But a lot on furlough now likely to lose their job.”