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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Boris Johnson Urged to Fill Gaps in Coronavirus Support

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The SNP’s Shadow Chancellor has sponsored a Bill that would require the UK government to fill the gaps in the available coronavirus support and bring forward a financial package for the excluded 3 million.

Alison Thewliss MP (pictured), co-chair of the Excluded UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), has raised concerns for the welfare of those who have been “left behind” and excluded for 10 months from the coronavirus support brought in by the UK government at the beginning of the pandemic.

In December, the SNP were made aware of 8 people who had taken their own lives who were known to Excluded UK – an organisation that represents the millions of self-employed people who have lost work due to the pandemic but have not qualified for financial support from the UK government.

The SNP has said that while other countries across the EU have delivered much-needed support for the self-employed, Boris Johnson and the UK Cabinet have “failed miserably” on the issue.

A survey by Excluded UK of over 3,000 respondents found over half had seen their income fall to 20% or less of what they received before the pandemic, and that half had taken on personal debt.

A third have said they are struggling with their mental health; 80% said they are stressed, anxious and have trouble sleeping, and 14% said they are experiencing thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

The Resolution Foundation estimates that one in three people in self-employment, a total of 1.7 million, are at risk of losing their income – including around 330,000 in Scotland.

Ms Thewliss has sponsored the Bill with other members of the APPG.

The Bill will be introduced today (Wednesday 13th January) in the House of Commons by Tracy Brabin MP.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The UK government is failing miserably to meet its responsibilities and deliver a financial package for the 3 million excluded who have been living without a single penny of support for 10 months now – despite the incredible hard work of Excluded UK, Tracy Brabin and the rest of the APPG members urging them to do so.

“Many are worrying about how they will pay bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over their head – and the lack of support from the UK Treasury has tragically cost lives as we found out last month.

“There is no excuse for this abject failure by the Tory government – other countries across Europe have delivered billions in support for self-employed people, including our neighbours in Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Germany.

“What’s more, UK ministers have been told time and again about the devastating impact of their disregard for this group.

“The SNP has repeatedly pressed for support for the self-employed – calling on the UK government to introduce a package of measures including using the tax and welfare system to provide a guaranteed income for everyone, increasing UK Statutory Sick Pay to the EU national average, including self-employed people in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, strengthening welfare protections by increasing Child Benefit, and making the £20 Universal Credit increase permanent whilst extending it to legacy benefits.

“UK ministers have repeatedly ignored all of these proposals.

“They must wake up to the urgency of this situation and take the necessary steps to ensure no one is left struggling to get by in the face of this unprecedented emergency.

“I very much hope the Ten-Minute Rule Bill brought forward by Tracy Brabin today will see the UK government finally do the right thing.

“Boris Johnson has U-turned on almost everything else – he must do the same on support for these 3 million people who have been shamefully ignored for 10 months under his watch.”

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