Ahead of Wednesdays budget Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to demand action over those excluded from covid-19 support.
On February 13th Chi held a digital town hall in Newcastle Central for businesses and constituents who have not been able to access the support they needed.
Chi said “At my town hall I heard from a Newcastle business that had been forced into administration and others that received no support since the pandemic began. Millions of people have been excluded from all support during the pandemic with thousands in my constituency alone. People are being left behind through no fault of their own, and viable businesses are going under because of government inaction. Exclusion from support is having a significant impact on the mental health of so many people and their families, it is also damaging to the local economy. On February 18th I wrote to the Chancellor to share the real life experiences of my constituents, but I am yet to receive a response. Rishi Sunak must take the opportunity of the budget to close gaps in support or risk losing more businesses.”
Notes for editors
Chi’s letter to Rishi Sunak:
On Saturday the 13th February I held a digital town hall meeting for individuals and businesses in Newcastle Central that have been excluded from covid support. At this meeting I heard about the significant impact that exclusion has had on my constituents and the significant gaps that remain in the Government’s support package.
The town hall raised a number of questions for yourself. I am writing to you to request answers for my constituents to the following questions:
- Lack of Covid 19 support for the coach sector has forced a coach business in my constituency into insolvency. The owner and director is now concerned about the impact this insolvency will have on his position as a director at another firm. Can you reassure him that his position at his other firm will not be impacted by this insolvency?
- Like many businesspeople across the country the director of a rail travel firm in my constituency has been forced to take out thousands of pounds of loans secured against personal assets to ensure the survival of the business. These directors need to know what support and reassurances you will offer them with regards to their personal liabilities?
- A takeaway sandwich business in my constituency, dependent on the footfall from local school children, does not have a business bank account, because of this they have been excluded from the bounce back loan scheme. What steps are you taking to help those in this situation gain access to the bounce back loan scheme?
- The funding provided to local authorities such as Newcastle City Council is described as discretionary but local authorities do not have full discretion over how it is awarded. For example, some grants are only accessible by businesses forced to close. Will you make more funding available which can be accessed by all businesses impacted by the pandemic?
- A public sector employee whose job was impacted by Covid19 was made redundant and told that furlough was not an option in the public sector. What alternative provisions are there to support public sector employees?
In March 2020 you stated that the Government will do ‘whatever it takes’ to help UK workers and businesses. However, I am concerned that a year later there are still people and businesses in my constituency that do not have access to the support that they need. I look forward to receiving your answers to my questions.
All the best,
Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Shadow Minister for Digital, Science and Technology