We have come a long way since the beginning of the lockdown but there is still a way to go and to get through this we are going to need to ensure the Pandemic’s impact on people’s jobs and livelihoods is kept to a minimum.
With the economy necessarily being shut down, it was right that the government acted to protect jobs and incomes by launching the Job retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). However, the limitations of these programmes are reducing their scope.
For example, there are a number of significant gaps which have left many self-employed people falling outside of the scheme. This includes those who work through Limited Companies, those who have yearly operating profits of £50,000 and over, the newly self-employed and freelancers who fall below the 50% of self-employed income threshold.
I have raised these barriers with the Chancellor and called for the inclusion of limited company directors in the scheme, a tapered package of support rather than a cliff edge at £50,000, an extended deadline for submitting 2018/19 returns and the option to submit 2019/20 returns early to calculate the grants on this basis.
But the problems do not end here. Workers who have had recent gaps in their earnings because of maternity leave will receive less financial support as this is not exempt from the calculations for support. This discriminates against women and I raised this with the Chancellor last week but did not receive a satisfactory answer.
In all, it is estimated that over 75,000 recent mothers could receive less income and two million self-employed people will be unable to access SEISS. I do not doubt the scale of the challenge facing the Government but without urgent reforms to the SEISS many of my constituents, and I fear many more people across the country, will face serious hardship in the coming months.
It falls to us to do all we can to continue pressing the Government on this issue so they are true to their word and ensure that no workers are left behind in these challenging times.