Martin Lewis has been known to pride himself on not basing his work on party politics but regularly notes his analysis can be focused on political actions. On this, the Money Saving Expert has voiced his disappointment with Rishi Sunak.

Reportedly, in analysing the government’s efforts Martin highlighted around three million people have been excluded from the government’s coronavirus support schemes.

Rishi was questioned on this problem recently on the Andrew Marr show and he responded with the following: “I might quibble with some of the numbers but I have enormous respect for Martin.

“What I’d say is that I fully acknowledge what I said recently, we absolutely have not been able to help every single person in exactly the way that they would like to have been helped – in spite of the fact that we’ve put enormous support in place.

“The reason for that is straight forward. We were confronted with something at such speed and at such severity in scale, that we needed to move very fast.

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The National Audit Office report in question detailed the following: “As many as 2.9 million people were not eligible for the schemes, either because of ministerial decisions about where to focus support, or because HMRC did not have data needed to properly guard against the risk of fraud.

“This includes 1.1 million people estimated by third parties to be ineligible for CJRS because HMRC had limited data to validate claims or determine eligibility.

“HMRC estimates that around 1.6 million self-employed people did not meet the criteria for SEISS, for example because most of their income did not come from being self-employed (1.4 million people) or their trading profits exceeded £50,000 (200,000 people).

“Third parties estimate that a further 200,000 were ineligible for SEISS because they were newly self-employed in 2019-20 and had not yet submitted a self-assessment return.”

In concluding the report, Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, commended the government’s efforts but acknowledged vast issues remain: “HM Treasury and HMRC met their objective to rapidly implement the schemes and the civil service should be commended for making these available ahead of schedule.

“Indications are that the schemes helped to protect jobs in the short-term, but it is also clear that many other people have lost earnings and have not been able to access support.

“It appears that the scale of fraud and error could be considerable, particularly for the furlough scheme.

“HMRC could have done more to make clear to employees whether their employer was part of the furlough scheme.

“In future, the Departments should do more while employment support schemes are running to protect employees and counter acts of fraud.”

HMRC and the wider government may be faced with a whole new set of similar issues in the coming months as the furlough scheme is set to be completely replaced, while extended self-employment grants will double in size.

From October 31, the furlough scheme (as well as other government support packages) will be wound down and a Job Support Scheme will become available.

This new scheme is designed to keep people employed and supported through the winter months but some fear it will not be enough given the payments from it are less generous than what’s available on furlough.



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