Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
Nick Ferrari challenges Zahawi over 3m still excluded from Government support
6 January 2021, 09:09
Nick Ferrari challenges business and vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi over the three million people still excluded from Government support during the pandemic.
With England's third national lockdown underway, the three million people who have been excluded from financial help since March are still ineligible to receive aid in the Chancellor's new package.
Nick questioned Mr Zahawi on behalf of the exempt LBC listeners that have called in over the period - the latest being a distressed James O'Brien caller who now cannot afford heating.
Nick said, "They were missed out last March, they were missed out in subsequent reviews, and they're arguing that the announcements yesterday by your colleague the Chancellor they're still missing out.
"There are people now who've gone almost a year without cash."
Mr Zahawi responded that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has put "almost £280 billion into help", to which Nick reiterated that three million have been missed out.
"It is difficult on everyone, and people have support in lots of other ways," the minister said.
"It's more difficult if you haven't got any cash coming in," Nick said, "I'm still earning, you're still earning, we're very fortunate...there are blokes and women listening, they've had no earnings for nine months.
"Someone needs to speak with the Chancellor."
Mr Zahawi said he "absolutely understands" having seen campaigns from the people who feel "quite rightly" hard done by and do not have enough because they do not fall into the relevant category for aid - however he reiterated there is "additional help" for them.
Reflecting on the package announced on Tuesday, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham told LBC, "To still leave three million taxpayers out in the cold when other people are getting support, there can't be a justification for doing that.
"The Government said it's all too difficult, and there may be issues of fraud, and it said with regard to people who had newly been self-employed that they'd never submitted a tax return - well that's changing because they're all about to submit their tax returns for financial year 19/20."
He continued: "The reason the Government gave is no longer valid and they've just got to address this issue. It's an issue of basic fairness and humanity. How can they go into another year with no support?
"We will end up with a mental health crisis on top of a pandemic here if this issue isn't addressed and addressed quickly."
LBC has raised the issue of the excluded repeatedly over the pandemic, with Nick Ferrari in November putting to the Chancellor a statement from ExcludedUK founder Anneka Hicks that some "abandoned" by the Government have taken their own lives.
After hearing her tearful explanation on how those without financial aid are affected, the Chancellor responded: "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."