Coronavirus crisis: MP says Sunak MUST act to stop self-employed ‘falling through cracks’
With the nation – and much of the world – currently on lockdown, people with their own businesses have been particularly badly hit, not least because there is no indication as to when the restrictions will be lifted. Mr Sunak unveiled some measures aimed at easing their plight last week – but Mr Kawczynski believes they do not go far enough, and will not begin paying out until June as things stand. He told Express.co.uk: “The key issue that I want to get across, the one I’ve written to the Chancellor about, is this: people who are self-employed are falling through the cracks.
I never thought in a million years that a prudent fiscal Hawk like me like me would ever utter the words ‘…even if it means borrowing more money’
“Most people wouldn’t be able to live more than two months without any money – certainly I wouldn’t – unless of course, they can borrow off friends, relatives or neighbours; and with no idea when this is going to end, how long would they need to do that for?
“For me is the number one issue. I’ve number-crunched the whole thing. I’ve given it 10 days. And this is the feedback that we’re getting from our constituents.
“I never thought in a million years that a prudent fiscal Hawk like me like me would ever utter the words ‘…even if it means borrowing more money’.
“I’ve shocked myself – I never thought those words would pass my lips.
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“But the message to him is even if it means borrowing more money, so be it.
“Boris Johnson has very, very clearly indicated that there is such a thing as society, contradicting Margaret Thatcher’s mantra.
“In reality, there is such a thing as society and you can’t operate the government in a crisis and discriminate against 15 percent of the population.”
In his letter, Mr Kawczynski writes: “Individuals are in crisis now and, on behalf of my constituents, I seek your assurance that access to funds will be made available as a matter of urgency.
“I understand that HMRC have started to make contact with individuals and are informing them that they will be accepting applications in June.
“What is unclear is exactly when funding will be made available and if people have to wait until June, what help is available to get them through April and May 2020.”
It was also unclear what also unclear is what help was available for self-employed people who do not have three years’ worth of accounts, as well as people who previously worked through temporary employment agencies who have been let go, Mr Kawczynski said.
He asked: “What do I suggest to my constituents that are struggling to provide for their families at this time?”
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In addition there were concerns for companies which had paid their March payrolls, but which wold struggle to do so in April.
Mr Kawczynski wrote: “There needs to be assurance that money will be available for employers to pay their staff.
“I have previously suggested to Secretary of State for Business that HMRC could use the existing relationship via the PAYE system to simply inject a sum to all companies to keep them afloat.
“Without this real injection of cash many businesses will fail before the end of April with consequential unemployment.”
In calling for action, Mr Kawczynski was in rare agreement with Labour’s shadow chancellor – and staunch socialist – John McDonnell, who referred to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggesting many workers are currently out of pocket.
He said: “The Government must now urgently revisit both its job retention scheme and its self-employment scheme.
“It is unacceptable that carers, those on shorter working hours, and new starters who began work after 28 February are not covered by the job retention scheme – and that two million self-employed people are not covered by the self-employment package.
“We urge the Government to consider proposals that we have put forward to adjust the support schemes so that no workers are left behind in this time of deep anxiety for so many.”
The IFS study suggests while the two Government schemes unveiled by Mr Sunak – the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) for employees and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) scheme for the self-employed – provided for plenty of people, some would lose out badly.
Stuart Adam, a senior research economist at the IFS and one of the authors of the report, said: “Some will fall through the gaps completely – including high earners and the newly self-employed – and others will see only part of their overall earnings covered, including many who combine self-employment with employment or whose business is set up as a company.”
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