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Picture: Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Left) and Martin Docherty-Hughes MP (Right).
West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has called on the UK government to ‘get a grip’ and fix the gaps in support for the millions of families excluded from financial assistance during the pandemic.

Ahead of next month’s UK Budget Statement, local MP Martin has signed a cross-party letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak criticising the Tory government for failing to live up to promises that nobody needing financial assistance due to Covid-19 would be left behind.

The letter was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gaps in Support, which cites research suggesting up to three million people – including self-employed, freelancers, those on maternity/adoption leave, short term PAYE workers, company directors and more – have been left unable to make ends meet throughout the crisis due to gaps in eligibility for financial support.

SNP MP Docherty-Hughes says a new £2,000 discretionary grant scheme launched by the Scottish Government will go some way to helping families in Scotland excluded from UK support schemes. However, with powers over the coronavirus financial support schemes reserved to Westminster, the UK government is facing mounting pressure to take action ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“It’s a disgrace that nearly a year on from the start of the pandemic, the UK government still refuses to do anything to help the three million people who have callously been left without a penny of support.

“As a member of the APPG on Gaps in Support, I and a group of 60 cross-party MPs have written to the Chancellor urging him to get a grip on the financial crisis facing so many struggling families just now.

“This Tory Chancellor promised that nobody in need of financial support during the pandemic would be left behind. But for my constituents who are self-employed and freelance workers deemed ineligible for financial help they have been badly let down by the UK government.

“Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government is using the limited powers it has to try and help those falling between the gaps of the UK’s Covid-19 job support schemes. I would urge self-employed workers in West Dunbartonshire who have been frozen out of any financial assistance to apply to the council’s discretionary fund which is now open and offering grants of £2,000.

“It is hoped that additional grant funding introduced by the Scottish Government will help relieve a bit of financial pressure for some of the hardest hit self-employed workers just now. However, it’s clear that unless the UK Chancellor takes meaningful action ahead next month’s Budget Statement, the long-term economic impact for many of my constituents will be severe.”

Details of how to apply to West Dunbartonshire Council’s discretionary hardship fund is available here:

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