In response to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement earlier today, ExcludedUK is extremely concerned that, having been left without meaningful support since the start of the global pandemic, many of those entirely or largely shut out of the Covid financial support schemes will continue to struggle as the pledges will not make up for increases in tax and the cost of living. For the +3 million affected, this is hardly an “age of optimism” or opportunity to ‘levelling up’.
The Chancellor stated that the OBR expects the economy to return to pre-Covid levels by the end of the year. However, this will not be the case for most excluded businesses that have had to take on significant additional debt to survive the pandemic amid significant uncertainty, while sadly there are equally those businesses that have been forced to shut down. Whilst the 50% capped business rates reduction for certain sectors is welcome, ExcludedUK had hoped for a reduction in business rates for all excluded businesses to help ease these debts, which will be compounded by the increase in corporation tax, NI contributions, energy costs and wage bills.
Whilst the increased minimum wage of £9.50 per hour from April 2022 is great news for the low income employees, this will only further squeeze SMEs that are already on their knees financially due to active and arbitrary policy decisions by the Treasury leaving them out in the cold during the pandemic without adequate support
Despite all our calls to the Treasury to address the exclusions to the Covid support schemes, +3 million continue to face severe financial hardship for years to come and this budget fails to provide the much needed hope for these individuals and businesses.
Lives and livelihoods are at stake, many having already succumbed. Devastatingly, ExcludedUK lost another member to suicide this weekend and we can anticipate more sadly resorting to taking their own lives, as have several others over the course of the pandemic due to being excluded from the schemes. Those affected continue to struggle to come to terms with their current desperate circumstances including having to sell houses, cars, personal belongings, family heirlooms, all just to survive.
As the absence of parity of government Covid-19 support continues, ExcludedUK is proud to launch the ExcludedUK Boost! Grant today. This is a one-off grant available to ExcludedUK members who are experiencing extreme hardship as a result of being entirely or largely excluded from government support during the pandemic.
Any donations towards this grant scheme will be very gratefully received by the families for whom this support will be a lifeline. Donations can be made via the following link: