Thompson urges Treasury to keep support schemes

Saturday May 30th 2020

Owen Thompson

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson urged the Chancellor not to restrict the lifeline support for businesses and self-employed at this stage or more jobs would be lost.

Mr Thompson was commenting on the announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday that businesses would be expected to pay 20% of furloughed staff salaries from August, and the self-employed would be eligible for a second and final capped grant.

Mr Thompson wrote to the Chancellor earlier this week urging him to extend the self-employment income support scheme which has helped 2.3 million self-employed.

Mr Thompson said:-

“I welcome the extension of support for businesses and self-employed, but the schemes need strengthened not weakened. The restrictions being put in place threaten to undo the good work the schemes have done in keeping people afloat.

“If the UK Government is really serious about leaving no-one behind during the crisis, it has to make sure businesses already on the brink are not put under further financial strain at a critical time. If not, the support schemes will simply be buying time before people lose their jobs.



“Businesses with no income cannot be expected to cover the salary gap at this stage. Research from the Institute of Directors showed a quarter of employers using the furlough scheme would be unable to afford to make any contribution at all towards workers’ wages at this time.

“Nor should there be an arbitrary date to cut off the availability of support for the self-employed – they must show flexibility for circumstances for those who will need it longer.

“If we end support too early we will see unemployment soaring – that’s no way to boost economic recovery. The virus has not gone away and thousands of small businesses and sole traders will be left with no means to make a living for some time to come.

“Many self-employed people in Midlothian have told me they are facing a financial cliff-edge. Whether hairdressers, caterers or musicians, they still can’t do their jobs and they and are worried about how they’ll pay the bills.

“Even when they can trade again, social distancing creates new challenges and it will take much more time for some businesses to find their feet. The government should help them, not pull the rug from under them.

“As we ease slowly out of lockdown in Scotland it is the wrong time to suddenly end this lifeline financial support. Putting more people on the breadline will not help economic recovery.

“The Chancellor must do the right thing, both for the economy and for people’s lives, by extending support for businesses and the self-employed for as long as it is needed.”

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