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Stone urges UK government to act over those 'left destitute'

By Alan Hendry

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North MP Jamie Stone has repeated his call for the UK government to take action to help those excluded from its Covid-19 support schemes.

Mr Stone has been at the forefront of efforts to help the millions affected, ranging from the newly self-employed to PAYE freelancers as well as new starters and people denied furlough.

Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, is chairman of the Gaps in Support all-party parliamentary group, formerly ExcludedUK.

He said: "Today marks six months since the Treasury provided lifesaving grants and job retention schemes that have benefited many. On the other side of the coin, millions have not been able to access these funds due to not meeting the criteria.

"People in the creative and events industries and owners of small limited companies have missed out on government grants, not to mention people who started new jobs or businesses just before lockdown and new mothers on maternity leave.

"Millions of individuals have fallen through the gaps in support. Unable to access job retention schemes and ineligible for Universal Credit, many of these people have been left destitute.

“One of the things the British people believe in is fairness – and it is wrong and deeply unfair that, through no fault of their own, so many people have been missed out from the government’s financial assistance. These people are in a desperate state financially and I believe that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak must now extend the hand of help.

"Firstly, the government can afford this. There is more than sufficient money from underspends in the initial financial assistance schemes.

"But furthermore, if these people and the contribution they make to our economy are to be thrown on the financial scrapheap, then it is the UK economy itself which will suffer damage. If for no other reason, the government must take action now.”

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