READING EAST MP Matt Rodda talks about supporting small businesses through Christmas and beyond. He writes;

As this is my last column for 2020, I would like to start by wishing everyone in Reading and Woodley a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. What a year we have had, 12 months ago nonoby would have predicted that 2020 would have been anything like this.

But I am proud of how our community has come together to help those in need and to provide support to our neighbours. In particular, I would like to thank our NHS and care staff, our key workers and volunteers and indeed our community as a whole. I thank everyone for what they have done and continue to do in unprecedented times.

ALSO READ: Covid outbreak at care home claims three lives

Sadly, not everyone has been given the help they needed or deserved during these difficult times. Furlough schemes helped protect jobs but too many small businesses and self-employed people had an incredibly tough year and have been left with no help whatsoever.

Across the UK, around three million people were left excluded from the furlough schemes and were not eligible for any help under the self-employed support scheme. Many are small business or individuals working in their own company trying to earn a living to support their families.

The Government decided that unless small businesses had three years of accounts prior to 2019, they would not receive help.

Small businesspeople who were supported through an Army Pension or Widow’s Pension and working to top up their income were not given help.

The Government also gave no help to people who receive a carer’s allowance, and no support was provided to those who ran their own company and a director rather than employee.

ALSO READ: Why the council is planning to spend £1.5 million on two new cremators

And it happened to people in our community, such as sub-contractors, freelancers and people who set up their own company. All left with no help. Working together as ExcludedUK, those affected have been pushing the Government to give them the help they need.

Despite the rhetoric, the Government’s response missed many people and it needs to rethink its approach.

I will keep doing all I can to support small businesses and the self-employed and I hope that as we enter 2021, the Government will make the New Year happier for the Excluded three million.