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Chancellor urged by cross-party MP’s to back £10bn COVID support scheme for ‘excluded’ taxpayers

Image credit: HM Treasury (Flickr CC2.0)

An ambitious plan to help 2.9 million “excluded” taxpayers deal with the impact of coronavirus will help protect the entrepreneurs that Britain desperately needs to rebuild its battered economy, say the scheme’s backers.

The proposals, from the cross-party Gaps in Support APPG, offers support to 2.9 million excluded individuals and businesses during the pandemic, with one-off, targeted grants ranging from £3,500 to £7,500.

The Targeted Income Grant Scheme (TIGS) – designed by Rebecca Seeley Harris, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Treasury’s Office of Tax Simplification – has been presented to the Treasury by the APPG, with the aim of sealing major gaps in the Government’s COVID-19 financial support package.

Four groups of UK taxpayers are covered by the scheme:

  • Newly self-employed

  • PAYE freelancers

  • Ltd Company Directors

  • Those excluded by the 50/50 rule in the SEISS.

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone, Chair of the Gaps in Support APPG, said: “Given the economic environment, Britain will be looking to entrepreneurs and small businesses to help power us towards recovery like never before.

“This scheme is affordable, simple to administer, resistant to fraudulent claims and will help protect people the country will need desperately in the months and years ahead.

“Crucially, failure to offer this support – support for people who have paid their fair share into our tax system – is likely to result in a far higher long-term cost to the Treasury, both in terms of business opportunities lost and in increased costs from unemployment.

“That is the practical argument for adopting this cross-party plan. Of course, there is also a moral argument: the Government promised to support Britons throughout the country and yet now, nearly a year on, millions of people are still waiting for the first signs of that support. This is now long overdue, with each passing day of inaction risking both lives and livelihoods.

“Failing to act now would be a short-sighted mistake that would haunt our economic recovery. We would pay a much higher price later.”

Report author Rebecca Seeley Harris estimates the cost of implementing the scheme to be approximately £10.5billion.

Seeley Harris highlighted the importance of the groups supported by TIGS, saying: “The Government’s COVID-19 financial support package has been generous and set up at speed. The Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme have provided support for millions of employees and the self-employed.

“However, a number of individuals and businesses have fallen through the cracks of support and faced many months of financial hardship.

“Small businesses, sole traders and entrepreneurs will be the engine of the UK’s economic recovery in the months and years ahead. But, if we do not support them now, many face ruin.

“Without targeted support, jobs will be cut, hard-earned savings will run dry and livelihoods will be lost. It will be much more expensive to rebuild what we had later down the road than to provide the reasonable support needed now.

“Without these individuals and businesses, the UK cannot ‘build back better’. As we look to re-energise our economy, these individuals and businesses will be instrumental. Their hard work and innovation will create jobs, widen opportunities and provide a way out of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Conservative MP and APPG Co-Chair Esther McVey echoed these concerns, saying: “We are talking about offering vital support to 3 million people who, in one way or another, have made the leap towards running their own businesses.

“Abandoning this group sends out the message that Britain is abandoning entrepreneurs, those who see a gap in the market to create wealth and jobs for the country.

“I can tell you from experience that freelancing or launching a small company is challenging at the best of times, and these are far from the best of times.

“These are people who set out to support themselves, their families and local communities. They are exactly the sort of people we need to encourage right now, not drive from the market just as our economy needs them more than ever.”

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