Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has today written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in support of the small businesses and self-employed people in her community, saying that “We must continue to champion and foster entrepreneurialism and creativity during this crisis”.
Layla wrote to Sunak in support of all those who have fallen between the cracks of the Government’s current support measures, including businesses not eligible for business rates and self-employed people whose average earnings are just above the £50,000 cap for the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS).
In the letter, she wrote: “I still have some significant concerns, most of which come from hearing from constituents who are still worried about losing everything in the coming weeks and months.”
Commenting, Layla said:
“Whilst I of course welcome the measures the Government has introduced so far, so many of my constituents are falling through the cracks and need urgent help.
“These are small businesses and self-employed people who I’m sure the Government want to support, but the rules and requirements put in place mean many are losing out. Many of these rules are blunt instruments, when what we need right now is in-built flexibility.
“In particular, I’m very worried about the start-ups and entrepreneurs set to lose everything. We must continue to champion and foster entrepreneurialism and creativity during this crisis, or we will all be worse off in the long-term.
“I’m calling on the Chancellor to review the Government’s support package, and to be flexible and accommodating at this time.”
2 April 2020
I hope you are well, and that you’re able to stay safe at this time.
I am writing you in support of all the small businesses, and the 9,400 self-employed people, in my constituency. I would firstly like to thank you for everything you have done so far to help them with the packages of measures already announced.
However, I still have some significant concerns, most of which come from hearing from constituents who are still worried about losing everything in the coming weeks and months.
So many small businesses in my community are doing an incredible job, doing everything they can to keep people employed and put food on people’s tables. But many are unable to access the support that the Government is giving, particularly because they do not qualify for business rates, for example because they are sole traders or they are service-oriented businesses.
Regarding the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) specifically, SMEs without a business account, those who are struggling to prove ‘viability’ in the present circumstances (the impact of COVID-19 means this is difficult for many businesses who need your support), and the requirement of personal loan guarantees by many banks are the key issues. Together, this means that a significant number of small businesses across the country are in danger of closing for good.
What steps is the Government taking to address these as a priority?
The self-employed also need further support, although I do of course welcome the measures the Government has announced. Firstly, I know that having to wait until June to receive support is a cause of great anxiety to many.
However, even more pressingly, there are self-employed constituents of mine who are unable to access it at all.
Those who are PAYE contractors often work for many companies for short periods, and so don’t qualify for the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) or the furlough scheme. What can the Government do to include them in SEISS?
Self-employed people who pay themselves through dividends via a personal service company are also ineligible, and many have found themselves having to apply for Universal Credit, which is not enough to pay their bills. What plans does the Government have to support them?
The £50,000 cap on the scheme is a blunt instrument when what we need is flexibility. Could the Government taper it, to ensure those earning just over the cap can still access some aid? Otherwise, someone who earns £50,000 accesses SEISS, whilst someone earning £51,000 has to resort to Universal Credit.
Lastly, start-ups, including many in my area, are exempt, as they do not have 2018/19 tax returns. Could they be included as a matter of urgency, perhaps by being able to file early tax returns for 2019/20? We must continue to champion and foster entrepreneurialism and creativity during this crisis.
Thank you, Rishi, for everything you are doing at this time of crisis, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience.
Layla Moran MP
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon