Imran contributed to the Westminster Hall debate on support for those ineligible for Government support schemes.
Imran Ahmad Khan MP: Since the start of the pandemic, the Treasury has implemented a suite of support measures that have been nothing short of extraordinary. For most people and most small businesses, money was received in a timely manner, and proved vital in protecting businesses and the employees they support. However, a large number unfortunately fell through the cracks. Earlier in the year, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury accepted that certain individuals were unintentionally excluded from the Government’s financial support measures, but highlighted the difficulties of assessing those on a case-by-case basis.
We are nine months on from March, and a growing number of individuals have not received support throughout the pandemic, despite paying their taxes. One example in my constituency is testament to that. Graham Whitehead, a project manager in the arts and culture sector, left his full-time employment in January 2019 and decided to become self-employed. As he became self-employed in January, he did not have the required tax returns over a three-year period and did not meet the threshold of 50% self-employed income for the tax year. As of 10 July 2020—127 days after the industry was closed—he had received a total of only £6.27 in universal credit from the state.
There are many cases across the country like Graham’s—cases of individuals who have bravely taken a leap, spurred on by their entrepreneurial desire to forge their own path. Those excluded are the risk-takers who this Conservative Government should be encouraging. That is deeply unfair. They feel let down by the absence of support.
Over the past few weeks, support provided by Her Majesty’s Government has been returned to the Treasury from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other large supermarkets. These funds should be repurposed and directed towards those who have yet to receive adequate support. Her Majesty’s Government have taken many truly unprecedented steps to protect lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic. However, we should endeavour to ensure that no one is left behind.