Labour MP for Manchester Withington Jeff Smith has taken part in a parliamentary debate on support for people ineligible for Government covid-19 support schemes.
The debate was tabled as part of continuing cross-party efforts to press the Government to address the gaps in support that have left some 3 million working people unable to access help throughout the pandemic.
It came 261 days since the furlough scheme was announced and 258 since the self-employment income scheme was announced – schemes which continue to exclude many from support.
Because there were so many MPs wanting to speak in the debate, participants were restricted to 2 minutes each. You can read a full transcript of the debate here.
Jeff used his comments to note the estimated 130,000 individuals in Greater Manchester who have fallen through the gaps. He highlighted 3 Manchester Withington constituents who have struggled after missing out due to being paid via dividends.
Jeff urged the Government to look again at the many detailed proposals which have been put forward by the trade unions, industry bodies and campaign groups that represent the people affected and could address the flaws in the Government’s schemes.
“The constituents who are coming to us are hard-working, decent people. They are really struggling, and the Government need to look at solutions to help them out”
Labour’s frontbench spokesperson, shadow Treasury Minister Bridget Phillipson MP, said:
“The Opposition accept that it was difficult to get everything right when the Government set up these income support schemes back in March—but we are months into this pandemic now. We know where the gaps are. We have pointed them out repeatedly and Members have made the case here today. I ask the Minister, again, what is being done to sort out these issues?
“We should do everything we can to ensure that an economic recovery benefits everyone in our country, and we should give the self-employed the confidence to keep going, not leave them to sink or swim. If we do not, we will face a much slower and less inclusive recovery. That is in the Minister’s hands. It is not too late to listen; it is not too late to act.”
The Government minister John Glen MP’s response to the debate did give a little cause for hope, as he referenced a briefing by Excluded UK and said: “I have looked at that carefully and shall take back the three-stage approach, and we will continue to see if we can move forward.”
He also said he was willing “to continue to work with groups, including IPSE, the relevant APPG, the FSB and others, that bring forward proposals. As we move through into the new year, we will continue to look at the new schemes.”