MPs criticise Sunak for excluding over 1m from financial support

Rishi Sunak has been accused of not helping those in need during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers said this week that the chancellor has “effectively drawn a line” for many that are not being reached by the government’s financial support.

A report, released last month by the Treasury committee, highlighted that over a million Britons were newly self-employed, directors of limited companies, freelancing, or recently switched jobs, meaning they were not able to access government financial help.

Sunak has defended his approach to the pandemic, saying they “were the right policies for the first phase of the crisis.”

The chancellor went onto say broader self-employment support would have led to “organised criminal gang to file fake or misleading returns to claim the grant”.

Mel Stride, the Conservative chair of the committee, has urged the government to rethink its aid packages. Stride said: “The chancellor has effectively drawn a line under helping the million-plus people who have been excluded from support for four months.

“Despite stating that he will not pick winners and losers when it comes to sectors and businesses that need support, the chancellor has done this when it comes to households and individuals.”

“The chancellor said that the schemes were designed to be open and accessible to as many people as possible, but the committee remains to be convinced that more people could not have been helped.”

The comments come as the government prepares to scale back the furlough scheme. Up to 9.5 million jobs have been furloughed this year and the scheme has cost the government £29.8bn so far.

Defending the government’s financial aid, the spokesperson from the Treasury said: “We have kept nine-and-a-half million people in work, supported the incomes of 2.6 million self-employed people and helped businesses across the UK get through the outbreak – acting quickly to deliver one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support in the world worth an initial £160bn.”