Boris Johnson has been urged to help millions of people across the UK who have been “excluded” from vital support throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
More than nine million people have benefited from the government’s furlough scheme, which guarantees 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month for people unable to work.
However, it is thought around three million workers are not eligible for any support.
People who are newly self-employed or freelancing are currently ineligible for the bailout schemes offered by the government.
Others who are affected include people on maternity or paternity leave whose earnings may have dropped since going on leave, traders whose profits exceed £50,000, and company directors relying on dividends affected by the economic impact of coronavirus.
‘These people need help’
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the current support “simply isn’t good enough”.
He added: “These people need help and I’m asking the prime minister to think very carefully about this.
“This has been an abject failure by this UK Government and the prime minister has been missing in action.
“The government has U-turned on almost everything else so why can’t the prime minister and the chancellor change their minds on their support for these three million people?”
He added: “We are now a little over three weeks from Christmas. These people need help. Will the prime minister commit to looking again at the support package for the excluded to ensure no-one, but no-one, is left behind?”
Johnson offers his sympathies, and lists support packages offered by Treasury…Blackford says the response is 'not good enough', he asks the PM to commit to meet #ExcludedUK – PM again lists support already offered and says the best way to help is to reopen economy
— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) December 2, 2020
Mr Johnson responded: “We’re investing massively in mental health support across the country, as he knows, which flows through in Barnett consequentials, obviously, to Scotland.
“We’ve put in a huge package of support and he knows this, but I must repeat this for self-employed people across the country, and I know there are hard-to-reach people, but they are also supported with the increases in Universal Credit and the many other means of support that are currently on offer.”
He added: “The best way to help the self-employed, to help the economy of this whole country, is to get us moving again with the package of measures that the House voted for last night to allow retail to start up again, to allow business to start up again.”