'The government has totally let us down': Workers falling through the cracks during coronavirus pandemic

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

Millions of workers have fallen through the cracks in government schemes designed to support them during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than two million people with some form of self-employment income are ineligible for the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

This includes those who are self-employed, new starters, freelancers and directors of Limited companies.

ITV News spoke to three people who are struggling during the outbreak as they continue to face financial hardship.

Roger Taylor - Taxi driver

Roger Taylor has been a taxi driver for more than 10 years, but is now living on his partner's furloughed wages for a part-time job.

The 63-year-old told ITV News that he cannot see the taxi business picking up in the current climate.

Unusually he has been classed as a PAYE Freelance - although technically he uses an invoice/tax returns system.

But because Mr Taylor took a small sum from his pension for a deposit to buy his home it tipped his "PAYE income" to be a higher percentage than his tax returns based income - even though it was money from his pension.

This pushed him into the PAYE Freelancer exclusion zone.

He told ITV News: "I have been a taxi driver for over 10 years, my business has been absolutely decimated.

"At the end of March work fell absolutely off a cliff and it’s unlikely to recover in next couple of months if at all - it may never recover."

The 63-year-old added: "I’m absolutely devastated.

"I think the government have totally let us down, completely let us down.

"Boris Johnson did say he would be with us every step of the way and that no one would be left behind and that sounds like absolutely shallow words at the moment because I have been totally left behind."

Chantelle Louise - Beautician

Chantelle Louise - a specialist in beauty treatments, cosmetic tattooing and training others on aesthetic beauty - has also struggled financially during the pandemic.

Ms Louise is not eligible for the JRS as she is self employed.

She is ineligible for SEISS due to a period of paid employment during the three-year period in which it is assessed.

Because she rents an office space which was never listed for business rates, the beautician is also not entitled to any business grants from her local council.

Ms Louise said she has tried to apply for loans from NatWest and HSBC but has been unsuccessful due to her poor credit history.

To make matter worse, as a result of credit searches - her credit score has dropped by around 100 points.

She said: "I have spent all of my savings keeping my home and business going.

"I have not had once pence, I get £408 from universal credit - my rent is that alone just on the business premises and the subscriptions, it's not enough.

"It's not enough to cover the rent on my own house to be honest but £408 a month to provide for a family as well it's absolutely nothing and I think it's an insult.

"I've not had one pence from anybody at all, I've been exempt from every single government scheme going... I'm exempt from everything and you can't argue with them, who can you argue with?

"The government, local councils, they're not going to listen to you...

"I am absolutely destitute.

"I cannot believe that this has happened to me.

"I have never experienced such extreme financial hardship in all my life.

"I have worked incredibly hard to try and work on my credit score and have been saving a deposit for a mortgage.

"It's all gone."

Tim Pravda - Festival worker

A freelancer, working on the assembly and running of festivals and events, Tim Pravda says the situation has left him "absolutely heartbroken".

Mr Pravda says he's been excluded from the government support offered to others to help them through the crisis - despite a campaign that's totalled 700 emails and social media posts calling on ministers to offer more.

He told ITV News: "My whole work's been cancelled for the whole of the year.

"I've literally been left desolate and totally ignored by the government".

A Conservative voter, Mr Pravda said: "It's absolutely disgusting".

"I voted for this government, and this is how I get treated".

The government says 2.4 million self-employed workers have been able to access help through the schemes put in place to support them during the pandemic.