SEFTON Central MP Bill Esterson called on a Government Minister to take his words back to the heart of government as he spoke out in support of a group referring to themselves as ‘the Excluded.’
This group includes workers and business owners who have not been able to access any government support during the coronavirus pandemic, such as company directors, freelancers and those who were between jobs at the beginning of March.
Mr Esterson said too many people – it is estimated that three million people across the UK have been affected in this way - did not qualify for any support.
In a debate on Covid-19 in the House of Commons on November 11, he asked the Health Minister Edward Argar, while he was outlining some of the financial support packages that are in place, to give way so that he could raise his point.
Mr Esterson told the House: “Of course it is right that the furlough scheme and the support for the self-employed should be reinstated at the levels they were in March, but the Minister will know—everyone will know—that there are a great many people in our country who did not qualify for the furlough scheme or the self-employed scheme or whose businesses did not qualify for grants at the start and still do not. May I take this opportunity to remind him that a great many people in this country are still without financial support and will find it increasingly difficult to make it through the coming weeks and months? Will he take that message back to his colleagues across the Government?”
Mr Argar responded: “I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he makes his points, which is, as ever, measured and reasonable. As I have said, I entirely understand—as anyone in this House will, from looking at their own casework and their constituents’ letters—the situations that some people still find themselves in, despite the unprecedented package of support that has been put in place. I know that he would not expect me to speak for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I know that my right hon. Friend will have heard the point that he has made. Indeed, other Members of this House have made it on other occasions on behalf of their constituents.”
Following the debate Mr Esterson said: “Company directors need help with their income just as much as the self employed and furloughed workers. Many people who were between jobs in March has been affected as well, if their new role fell through and their old employer refused to take them back on to furlough them. “Freelancers who are paid via short-term PAYE contracts have suffered. Many self employed don’t qualify for support because they haven’t been self employed long enough or earned just above the cut off set by the government. They all have bills to pay. They all need to put food on the table. Why does the Chancellor think some people need 80% of their normal income to survive, while others are referred to universal credit, and many more don’t even qualify for that?
“This is a growing injustice and the government must provide a fair way forward.”
Mr Esterson has spoken up for the ‘Excluded’ several times in Parliament and has written to the Chancellor on behalf of dozens of constituents.
For more information see https://www.excludeduk.org/excluded-uk-an-inclusive-alliance-for-the-excluded