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23 July, 2020 Open access

Government rejects call from MPs to ‘fill the gaps’ in the Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support schemes

Chancellor say that those unable to access the schemes can look for support from the 'many measures we have launched to make sure people get help at this time'

The government has rejected a call from MPs on the Treasury Select Committee to ‘fill the gaps’ in the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support schemes to assist the more than a million people that have been excluded by their eligibility rules.

In its June 2020 report, Gaps in Support, part of its ongoing inquiry into the Economic Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Committee had said -

'... we have identified well over a million people who - through no fault of their own - have lost livelihoods while being locked down and locked out of the main support programmes.

If it is to be fair and completely fulfil its promise of doing whatever it takes, the Government should urgently enact our recommendations to help those who have fallen through the gaps.’

However, responding for the government today, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that -

'The Committee is correct that some people have not been eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support schemes, or that some workers ... do not have a scheme that expressly caters for them. This is why the Government has been comprehensive in the economic response it has rolled out. Those unable to access the schemes could look for support from the many measures we have launched to make sure people get help at this time ...'

Expressing disappointment at the Chancellor's response, Committee Chair Mel Stride said - 

'The Chancellor has effectively drawn a line under helping the million-plus people who have been excluded from support for four months ... The Chancellor initially told those at risk of losing their livelihoods that they would not be forgotten. While the Government is clear that it is moving on to the next phase of its recovery plan, it cannot just turn its back on those who are suffering. The Committee urges the Government to re-think its position.'

For more information, see Chancellor has 'drawn a line' under helping million-plus excluded people from parliament.uk

Update (4 September 2020): the Treasury Committee has published a further government response to its report, that confirms the Chancellor's original position that rejected calls to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support to those who cannot access them.