IT makes ‘moral and economic sense’ to support the three million workers who have missed out on the government’s help during the coronavirus pandemic, says Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson.
He attended a cross-party meeting last week to discuss the plight of the ‘excluded.’
The Excluded UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which has over 240 MPs in its membership, met this week and heard from workers who had been left with no support during the pandemic. They include those who began new roles after February 28 so were not eligible for the coronavirus job retention scheme, company directors whose main income is from dividends, the self employed who have done some PAYE work or been on maternity leave in the past three years, self-employed who had been earning over £50,000 a year and freelancers, including in the creative industries, whose income is from short-term PAYE contracts.
Mr Esterson said: “The three million have been left high and dry by this government. This could be as much as 10 per cent of economically active people in the UK. If they are left with no income, the knock-on effect for the rest of the economy will be huge. If they have no income, they are not able to spend, and that is going to be a big hit to the economy.”
The APPG meeting heard from two members of the public who had been affected. Mr Esterson said: “Tim and Julie brought to life just how tough things are for families. They have been incredibly brave.
"We must make the case for support both from a human and an economic standpoint. Human, in support of families facing real hardship. Economic, as the same families buy goods and services. Excluded UK members need financial help now and help finding new work longer term. Otherwise the hardship will continue and the economy will be deprived of spending power which will have a knock on effect on everyone else. That's the case that the Chancellor must consider.
“Sadly, the Business Secretary has stuck to the mantra that the government is supporting many businesses. It simply isn't good enough of them to ignore Excluded UK members and the government has to have a rethink.”
In the House of Commons on Tuesday (July 21), the Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband raised the issue, saying: “ The Excluded include over 2 million people who are essentially self-employed but have been disqualified from help under the self-employment scheme for various—often arbitrary—reasons. In many cases, this is not simply rough justice but deep unfairness. Many of these individuals are not high earners.
“This issue of 3 million people being excluded is not going away. Yesterday, Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, said that a furlough extension was vital to prevent a “jobs bloodbath” in aerospace and automotive. We see the looming threat too in sectors that have not yet reopened, such as events and exhibitions, and those operating well below capacity, such as hospitality. Yet from next week, the Government are insisting that every single employer, whatever their industry, will have to start contributing to the furlough. Does the Secretary of State not recognise that this decision to phase out the furlough, irrespective of circumstances, risks handing a P45 to hundreds of thousands of workers?”