Sheffield and Rotherham business women amongst millions still excluded after Rishi Sunak confirms little change for self employed community

A South Yorkshire community of businesswomen excluded from Government support says it has been been left disappointed by last week’s Budget.

By Lisa Wong
Monday, 8th March 2021, 1:19 pm

The statement included an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant – which was good news for around a fifth of the ‘Excluded’ community, but many people claim the true figure is much lower, as it is only the newly self-employed who made profits in this year that benefit.

ExcludedUK is a volunteer-run organisation working towards bringing an end to exclusions in the UK Government’s Covid-19 financial support measures.

Eleanor Gaywood, who runs a Sheffield based dance school, is still unsure whether the new rules mean she is eligible for the new grant.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Members of the Excluded; Eleanor Gaywood and Cheryl Jones.

Fortunately, she has recently been awarded an Additional Restriction Grant (ARG).

As Eleanor is due to give birth in a matter of days, the grant has offered her some optimism ‘after one whole year of nothing’, as she puts it.

Although Eleanor has a Sheffield postcode, her ARG is from Derbyshire council as she lives on the border of Sheffield and Derbyshire.

Cheryl Jones, another member of the Excluded from Rotherham, said: “After a year of campaigning with the ExcludedUK to get parity, where three million taxpayers received none or little meaningful financial help, we were hoping to get something from this Budget day from Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor. The new starters received a little help but only those who made a profit. The rest of us were left out again through no fault of our own.”

Eleanor Gaywood worked part-time at Sheffield Council before becoming fully self employed in October 2018, but as a result of more than half her income coming from being an employee compared to that earned through being self employed in 2018, she was not eligible to claim for any financial help.

Cheryl has described Rishi Sunak’s latest decisions as ‘horrendous’, adding that he has ‘papered over the cracks’.

She believes the unemployment figure referenced to by the Government may also be short of up to a million due to people like her who are excluded.

Despite being disappointed, Cheryl feels ‘a little bit stronger’, as she too recently received an ARG.

Cheryl told how it was not an easy task getting the grant however, and involved enlisting the help of Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.

Cheryl Jones left the Army ten years ago and became a self-employed pet sitter and dog walker to supplement her pension, but as a result of the pandemic, her business hasn't survived.

She described the awarding of the grants as ‘like a lottery’ but she urges people to not give up and to ‘keep pushing’.

Cheryl explained: “Every council is different. It is not widely advertised and not all of them are helpful, but fortunately Rotherham RMBC awarded myself, which has helped me to purchase equipment to enable me start a new business.

"I would urge anyone who was self employed and excluded to contact their council and apply for this grant.”

The Standard Life Foundation reported that the number of excluded people may actually be 3.8 million people. This includes the self employed, limited company directors, employees who have been denied furlough, zero-hour contract workers and PAYE freelancers.

A spokesperson for ExcludedUK, said they would continue their campaign.

“Not helping those affected will leave a personal debt crisis that will hang over so many for years to come, many small businesses on the brink, while equally being at odds with the wider economic recovery.”

For more information, visit here.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.