Sheffield entrepreneur had 'sleepless nights' due to no Covid-19 help

A Sheffield entrepreneur and single-mum, left unable to claim any Government Covid-19 relief money, has said she struggles to sleep and would have had to sell her home if it wasn’t for the generosity of friends.

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 8:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 8:23 pm
Deb Howe from Eggucation

Deb Howe from Eggucation, who provides ethical chick hatching kits and animal educational talks in schools, said the Covid-19 lockdown has wiped around 90 per cent of her income.

Ms Howe, with her ‘sitting chicken’ Missy, was talking at a virtual event hosted by Excluded UK who represent around three million people who are not able to claim any one of the Government’s Covid-19 relief funds.

The call was attended by a range of people across the country in a similar situation to Ms Howe’s and metro mayors across the nation including Sheffield City Region head Dan Jarvis.

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Sheffield City Region head Dan Jarvis.

Mr Jarvis said he had ‘many heartbreaking conversations’ with people in the region and that 68,000 people across South Yorkshire have been unable to access Covid-19 relief schemes.

The call also heard a harrowing story from one women in Bristol who said her 14-year-old daughter had started self-harming and starving herself because she was worried about the family’s financial situation.

Ms Howe said she left her part-time teaching career in 2018 to focus fully on Eggucation and it meant that during that tax year, it showed more income from PAYE than her self-employment role meaning she couldn’t claim.

“The lockdown and school closures couldn’t have hit me at a worse time. I’m a single mum and I lost 90 per cent of my annual household income,” She said.

“We are surviving by taking on debt, I have a bounceback loan which is almost gone and that is a debt.

“I have put my mortgage on interest only until June - that is also effectively a debt and my utility bills are at a minimum thanks to the generosity of the companies but I still need to pay for it.

“It’s still a very uncertain future for me, my children and my home at the moment.

“It’s a very anxious time, I’m not sleeping very well, I’m struggling a lot of the days and it’s really hard to pick your business back off the ground from nothing when sometimes you can’t even remember what day of the week it is.

“I want the Government to know, along with the other three million like me, that I'm not a liar, I’m not a fraudster, my tax returns have never been late, I’ve paid tax for 30 years.

“There is no excuse for Government to ignore us now. It seems to me that my crime is that I changed the way I earn my income and pay my taxes, that’s not fair.”

Mr Jarvis said: “I’ve had some heartbreaking conversations with my constituents.

“The great majority of people who can’t get support aren’t wealthy but often are the hardest working and the most entrepreneurial people in society.

“The Government say they can’t afford to help them but what we’re saying is it is wrong to accept a system that leaves 3.1 million behind.”

Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham raised the hope that £585 million returned by Tesco in support could be used to provide aid to the three million who have fallen through the cracks.