Warning of crisis over three million people denied Government support during pandemic
BRITAIN is facing a simmering crisis of long-term economic problems due to the exclusion of an estimated three million workers from essential support from the Government during the pandemic, according to the Yorkshire-based leader of a national pressure group.
Campaigners of ExcludedUK have claimed that workers who have been denied Government support have lost their homes or been forced to sell their possessions in order to feed and clothe their families.
The group is calling for backdated parity via a grant or extension to the existing Covid-19 schemes so they include those who have been denied support through no fault of their own.
Rachel Flower, from Huby, near Harrogate, who is one of the national co-founders of ExcludedUK, said: “There are people who have now got zero in their bank accounts and no food on the table.”
Support measures including the Job Retention Scheme, along with benefits such as Universal Credit, have been introduced by the Government to help workers whose livelihoods have been impacted by restrictions. But the support does not cover some people, including the newly employed, the newly self-employed and freelancers.
ExcludedUK is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation which aims to bring about an end to the exclusions in the UK Government’s Covid-19 financial support measures across all employment statuses.
Ms Flower said: “ A lot of people have been forced to sell their homes and possessions. Those affected come from across sectors and jobs including plumbers, hairdressers, cafe owners, theatre and event workers, supply teachers, dog walkers and graphic designers.
“ExcludedUK has around 50,000 members and the total number of people who have been excluded from government support, based on official government data, is three million.
“There are people who have really struggled and come on hard times.
“Some are losing their homes and have been declared bankrupt. There is a simmering pot of socio-economic problems.”
Gina Miller, the co-founder of the True and Fair Campaign, said some members of ExcludedUK were struggling to pay for food and heating.
She said: “In the winter, children were forced to wear coats indoors and live off cereals and porridge. It made me think of Victorian times. Some are feeling so desperate they see no point in carrying on living and have considered suicide.”
The calls for extra support have been supported by Shadow Business and Energy Secretary Ed Miliband.
He said: ”For an entire year, more than a million self-employed people have been betrayed by Ministers and excluded from support. This is morally wrong and incredibly unfair.”
A Treasury spokesperson said: “Throughout this crisis, we have done all we can to support jobs and livelihoods through our £350 billion package of support, and our self-employed and furlough schemes are among the most generous in the world.
“We acknowledge that it has not been possible to support everyone in the way they might want. Funding is designed to target those who need it most and protect the taxpayer against fraud and abuse.”