Author: Paddy Smith, Public Affairs Manager
Over the past month the Government has announced its interventions to support businesses and workers through the COVID-19 crisis. These have included loans and financial support through the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Job Retention Fund.
As is usually the case with government schemes − however well-intentioned and particularly when programmes have to be devised and implemented in a short space of time − people will always fall between the cracks. This has certainly become evident within the income protection support schemes, as company directors who pay themselves through dividends are not eligible for financial support. Estimates suggest that this could be as many as two million business owners.
One-in-ten CIPD members are independent, working outside of organisations performing a range of important functions. David D’Souza highlighted in his recent blog that CIPD members who are independent practitioners are some of our brightest and best, and play an important role across the CIPD Board, branches and communities. A number of these independent members will fall into the category of being a director of a limited company who pay themselves primarily in dividends, and therefore cannot access government support.
As a result, the CIPD is lobbying on their behalf to ask the Government to extend the support schemes to allow them to access the support.
What are CIPD doing to lobby the Government?
The CIPD are in contact with officials from HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on this subject (as well as other issues relating to the coronavirus). We have raised the gaps in support with them, making clear that it affects a number of our members.
We have been encouraged by recent news, for example when the Government extended the cut-off date for furlough eligibility from 28 February to 19 March, suggesting there is an openness to making changes. We also learnt that Small Business Minister, Paul Scully, is working to provide the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, with ideas to extend the scheme to support small company directors. We welcome this.
We are also in conversation with other organisations about what can be done. We have spoken to The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), and supported their calls for further support the self-employed. We will also be speaking to ICAEW, the professional body for chartered accountants in England and Wales, who are looking at ways to extend support.
What can I do to lobby the Government?
With Parliament returning this week, we are encouraging our independent members to contact their MP to ask them to make representations to the Government on their behalf. Writing to your MP is a great way to raise awareness and ask them to represent you. You can find advice on how to do that, and a template letter, below.
Contacting your MP
Your local Member of Parliament has the power to make change and to make representations on your behalf. This is true regardless of whether or not you voted for them.
It may seem daunting to write to your MP but it is their job to represent you. They and their staff are used to receiving a vast number of emails and letters every day, and making representations on their behalf.
What can they do?
What they are able to do might depend on their position. If they are part of the Government, for example, they will be able to have conversations ‘behind the scenes’, whereas if they are an opposition MP and/or backbencher, they will be able to raise your issue in a number of ways:
To maintain social distancing, Parliament is going to be running in a different manner to usual – including virtually – and so this may impact upon what your MP is able to do at the moment. However, that won’t stop them representing you.
How do I find out who my local MP is?
You can find your local MP through www.theyworkforyou.com. This will provide you with their profile, voting record, expenses, social media accounts and can link through to their personal website (if available). You can also write an email to them through the website.
How do I contact my MP?
MPs usually have an office in their constituency and one in Westminster. You can call their office, send an email or a letter. Their website should provide the contact information, or you can make contact through www.theyworkforyou.com .
Tips for writing to your MP
[Insert your address]
Dear [MP name]
My name is [insert name] and I am a constituent of yours in [name of constituency]. I’m writing to you to request that you raise the issue of self-employment support with the Chancellor on my behalf.
I work as [insert information of company; work the company does; how many people, if any, you employ].
I am one of the estimated 2 million business owners that is out of scope of the support packages announced by the Chancellor. As a result, [include personal circumstances and impact of lack of government support].
I am therefore asking you to raise this important issue with the Chancellor and his team in Parliament.
I’d be grateful if you could respond to me outlining the steps you have taken on my behalf.
I look forward to hearing from you.
If you’d like any assistance with this, please do get in touch at P.Smith@cipd.co.uk
Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.
Dear Paddy, Thank you for this post, setting out the position so clearly and providing a template for a letter to my MP. I shall use this suitable tailored to my circumstances.
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