As you may be aware, the Chancellor has bowed to significant pressure from MPs, business organisations, and individuals, and has this evening unveiled a self-employed income support scheme.>
Below is a summary of the key points of how the scheme will operate:
Let me first of all say that I welcome support for those who are eligible and recognise that this will benefit a large number of my constituents.
I am, however, incredibly disappointed by the scheme’s huge shortcomings. From the correspondence I have received from hundreds of my constituents in recent days, I recognise that financial assistance is required urgently. Many self-employed people have already lost their income altogether, or have seen it significantly reduced. The Chancellor is asking you to wait for over two months before the first payment is made. That is unrealistic, unacceptable, and fails the first basic requirement of an emergency scheme.
Secondly, those who have recently become self-employed will be massively disadvantaged. Those with only one year’s trading history, for instance, will qualify for a grant which reflects their start-up trading profits rather than their current income. More alarmingly, those who have begun trading within the current tax year are disqualified from this support. Instead, they will be expected to depend upon the paltry £94 per week offered by Universal Credit.
The Chancellor has deliberately delayed his announcement until today, when Parliament has gone into recess and MPs are unable to properly hold him to account in the House of Commons. I am bitterly disappointed that he has chosen to act in this manner, given the consensual way in which parties have been working in recent days and weeks as we navigate through the Coronavirus crisis.
This scheme simply does not deliver for my constituents in Glasgow East, nor for the wider economy. I find it deeply concerning that hard-working people with bills to pay will have to wait until June for the support they need right now.
This agonising wait for months means that a huge number people in Glasgow East will now be forced to apply to a broken Universal Credit regime, which itself has a built-in five week wait before the first payment is made. This is totally unacceptable and people will really struggle to make ends meet.
The Chancellor has failed to deliver and I will not let this matter go easily.