Chancellor hears tearful campaigner over 'abandoned' people taking their lives in lockdown

26 November 2020, 09:20

Rishi Sunak on the excluded

By Asher McShane

Chancellor Rishi Sunak today disputed a campaigner's claim that three million people in the UK have been "abandoned" by the government during the covid crisis.

Anneka Hicks, founder of campaign group Excluded UK, broke down in tears on air with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC this morning saying that members of the group had taken their own lives due to lack of financial support in lockdown.

She said her group has been desperately fundraising for mental health support, and "seven or eight" members of their community have recently taken their own lives.

She said she believes the UK’s 3m self-employed people have been abandoned by the government during the Covid-19 crisis.

Rishi Sunak spoke to Nick Ferrari on LBC this morning
Rishi Sunak spoke to Nick Ferrari on LBC this morning. Picture: LBC

Chancellor Rishi Sunak listened to her interview this morning and said it is "very sad to hear."

But he added: "I respectfully disagree with the fact that 3m people can't access help."

The chancellor said the "majority self employed" in that group - will have benefited from furlough.

Mr Sunak said: "What we've spent is more than anyone else has internationally. The scale of what we have put in place is extraordinarily comprehensive and generous by any international measure.

"I respectfully disagree with the sense that 3m people have not been able to access any help.

"Lets just take one example of the people who are described as being in that group.

"It's people who are not majority self-employed, which means they make the majority of their earnings from being employed. Those people will have benefited from the furlough scheme. And when we set this up it was agreed that in order to target our support for the self-employed in a sensible way it was reasonable to give this money to those who make the majority of their earnings from being self-employed.

"That was something all the groups that I spoke to agreed with.

"The average self employment earnings of these people, 1.5m people, who are not majority self-employed is two or three thousand so they haven't got a grant for that, but that is not a significant part of their earnings."

Damo Jones works in PR in Liverpool and and is part of the Excluded UK campaign. He told LBC yesterday the Chancellor has totally ignored the three million self-employed people who need his support.

After the statement yesterday he said: "I've taken nothing away from the Chancellor's statement.

"A lot of politicians have been...joining this movement, Excluded UK, for the Chancellor to start listening."

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email  jo@samaritans.org  or head to the  website  to find your nearest branch

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