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Workers excluded from Covid support plead for tax bill waiver

Written by: Emma Lunn
ExcludedUK has called for emergency financial help for those excluded from government Covid-19 support.

Ideas put forward by the campaign group include an emergency grant and the waiving of self-assessment tax payments due this month.

The appeal came as England and Scotland both entered a new lockdown, deemed necessary to curtail the rapid spread of the new variant of Covid-19.

ExcludedUK have reiterated its call to the Treasury to consider the three-stage approach put forward by the group in December.

The proposals are intended as a precursor to seeking solutions for all categories of exclusions in the schemes.

The most immediate call is for an emergency grant to help those affected, initially called for to see people through the Christmas period.

ExcludedUK suggests a one-off upfront payment of £2,358 (the average pre-Covid monthly income) per person excluded from support. It says any such emergency payments can be made via the existing tax system and will provide a lifeline for many people.

The campaign group is also urging the Treasury to waive self-assessment tax for the self-employed due at the end of this month, as well as corporation tax for small limited companies.

It says that with many businesses on the brink of collapse, this will be a welcome measure to help them face the added challenges of the new lockdown.

Going forward, the group is asking for a new monthly arrangement while tiers and restrictions remain in place in complete parity with the extension of the furlough and self-employed support schemes.

This would mean workers receive 80% of their pre-Covid income up to £2,500 per month, with the ‘arbitrary hard edges to eligibility criteria’ removed.

It says HMRC can be used for payments to reach people easily, all within the existing system via tax code information alongside self-certification. It says this would be a straightforward mechanism, able to avoid fraudulent claims and with a clawback system to operate as needed.

ExcludedUK is also calling for discussions with the government about backdating payments for a full and final settlement to deliver parity and fairness for those excluded from meaningful support from the onset of the pandemic.

ExcludedUK represents workers who have been left out of meaningful financial support since the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) schemes were introduced more than nine months ago.

The eligibility criteria mean about 3 million people have slipped through the net, including those who are newly self-employed, company directors who are paid in dividends, and self-employed workers who earn more than £50,000 a year.

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