A Daventry District Council motion for 3 December was proposed by two councillors backed by the Liberal Democrats, Labour, one Conservative and an independent councillor.
Cllr Jonathan Harris and Cllr Catherine Lomax put forward their concerns (below) that Covid-19 has resulted in many people being bereaved. Whilst there may be some hope on the horizon with regard to a vaccine programme, the situation continues.
The pandemic has also created great hardship. Many organisations and employers have benefited from the government’s furlough scheme. However, according to Excluded UK there are around three million taxpaying individuals who have been excluded from any form of support, through no fault of their own.
These are often entrepreneurial individuals who take risks to create and establish new businesses or individuals who have no option but to work in a freelance capacity, such as performers and many others associated with our vital arts sector.
It has been said that the risk of funding such individuals is too great and would provide an immeasurable risk to the UK taxpayer. In the context of millions of pounds being spent on government contracts, seemingly without due process or appropriate procurement arrangements (according to the National Audit Office spending review) it is a patently flawed assumption. This group forms the backbone of business tax contributors and also makes a significant contribution to our local economy.
If you are newly self-employed, earning less than 50 per cent of your income from self-employment, were denied furlough or made redundant before 19 March 2020 you could be in this group. Directors may be affected too as well as many other cases.
Local resident Emma Carpendale says:
“I’ve been working as a professional face painter and make-up artist for over 15 years but my business has been closed since March due to Covid-19. I have been excluded from the Government Emergency Support Schemes and have not been entitled to Universal Credit. I wasn’t eligible for the council Covid-19 grants as they were for business rates payers only and my work takes place at events. I didn’t know about the discretionary grants until the deadline passed and it was too late to apply. My application to the Kick Start scheme, administered by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership was rejected, so I am at a loss as to where to go for support.
“It has clearly been a difficult 9 months for everyone; this crisis has taken its toll on every citizen and we’ve all been touched by grief, sadness and despair. But to be stripped of my livelihood and then frozen out of government support and deemed unworthy of help has been crushing.
“I have strived and sacrificed to create a successful business, I have contributed to my local economy, given employment to others and I’ve paid taxes my entire working life. I deserve help to get through this crisis as much as anyone; no one should be left behind. I contacted all three of my Conservative councillors to ask for support in this matter but received no response. That’s why I contacted Cllr Harris from a different ward.”
The group of councillors were defeated by the Conservative majority on the council but, notwithstanding, Liberal Democrat Cllr Harris is now seeking signatories for a letter to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
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