25 November 2020
ExcludedUK responds to the Spending Review as it publishes its latest survey on the impacts on those excluded from government Covid-19 financial support 8 months on
ExcludedUK expresses its deep disappointment at the Chancellor’s continued refusal to acknowledge those entirely or largely excluded from government Covid-19 financial support and the increasing severe hardship they face now 8 months on, despite the matter being raised again by Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, SNP Treasury spokesperson Alison Thewliss and Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine today.
The Chancellor talked about the immediate priority to protect lives and livelihoods, not least in the context of today’s OBR projections. Yet he continues to disregard this ever-urgent matter for the country’s economic recovery with responses that are mere fallacies.
The Chancellor disputed the number of 3 million excluded. ExcludedUK urges him to look again at the report of the National Audit Office of 23 October which concluded that 2.9 million were not eligible for the government Covid-19 financial support schemes, highlighting the fact that many who have lost income have not been able to access support, thus contradicting the Government's repeated assertions that everyone has been helped in some way. Moreover, the data analysis conducted by ExcludedUK in arriving at this figure of 3 million comes from readily available data from HMRC, ONS and Business Population Estimates from BEIS. We equally urge him to look at this data which will confirm this figure of 3 million excluded from meaningful support.
In disputing this figure, he referred to 1.5 million whose self-employment is less than half of their income and could therefore benefit from the furlough scheme. This is simply not true.
- What about the recent widow who was in receipt of bereavement payments then her husband’s pension which she invested into a new business to rebuild her life and to support her two teenage daughters?
- What about someone who was made redundant in 2016 who invested that redundancy pay in a new business?
- What about the teacher who retrained as a therapist and over several years established a new business part-time whilst continuing to teach to slowly become fully self-employed, or the NHS worker who left PAYE employment to go self-employed?
- No one can be furloughed from a past job from last year or previously.
- What about those whose maternity, parental or adoption leave fell at a certain time?
There are many more exclusions in the schemes relating to PAYE employees, PAYE freelancers and limited company directors as well as the self-employed, affecting people from every walk of life and all sectors. The fact is the CJRS and SEISS schemes fell far short of providing adequate financial support for all who were in need, with no policy rationale or justification on the Government’s part behind these exclusions, but rather arbitrary hard edges to the eligibility criteria.
With the extension to CJRS and SEISS up to March 2021, unless any changes are made, this will represent 1 year of little to no support for 3 million UK taxpayers. Not helping those excluded is completely at odds with the need for economic recovery - these exclusions are unfair, unjust and discriminatory.
The Chancellor also referred to Universal Credit being able to make up the difference. Again, this is simply not true.
Today, ExcludedUK releases its most recent survey, illustrating the profound impacts on lives, livelihoods and businesses 8 months on. Key findings are as follows:
- 56.5% of respondents have seen their income fall to 20% or less than their pre-Covid income since March 2020
- 47.1% of respondents anticipate their income over the next 6 months to fall to 20% of less than their pre-Covid income
- 51.3% of respondents have had an income of less than £500 per month since March 2020
- 33.7% of respondents estimate their personal annual income for 2020/2021 to be 75-100% lower than in 2019/2020 and 27.3% of respondents estimate their personal annual income for 2020/2021 to be 50-75% lower than in 2019/2020
- 21.4% of respondents are at risk of losing their home
- 50.2% of respondents have found themselves in debt
- Only 9.8% of respondents were able to access CJRS or SEISS
- 68.8% of respondents have received no government financial support (excluding loans and deferrals)
- 72.1% of respondents were unable to access Universal Credit
- 70.1% of respondents feel they have been emotionally impacted a lot or a great deal as a result of being excluded
- 81.1% admit to feeling stressed or anxious as a result of being excluded
8 months have now passed since the schemes were announced – there has been ample time to address this situation, and the Spending Review was the ideal opportunity to address these issues and support those who need it now more than ever. There is still time if there is the political will to do so.
The impacts of these exclusions are profoundly damaging – to lives, livelihoods and the economy, making recovery and growth all the more challenging. Failure to address the situation will only lead to these impacts becoming more acute, amid considerable uncertainty and a long recovery process ahead: escalating financial hardship, mounting debt, and an ever-growing mental health crisis, with people having to use food banks, sell their homes, move in with parents, sell their cars and other belongings, and rely on family and savings.
The Government has made many U-turns this year. Making a U-turn on this matter is the right thing to do and we urge the Chancellor to help the 3 million who have been excluded who need help now more than ever.
Please contact email@example.com for ExcludedUK’s full survey report.
Case studies available on request
Notes to editors:
1. ExcludedUK is a grassroots volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation established in response to the financial challenges faced by individuals and businesses entirely or largely excluded from government Covid-19 financial support.
2. ExcludedUK's estimate of 3 million excluded from meaningful government Covid-19 financial support, has also been backed up by Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert) and Standard Life Foundation which referred to 3 million households as being ‘unprotected’.