Small business owners speak out against Government on lack of financial help during lockdown

The campaign to help small business owners has gained increasing support in recent months Credit: ITV News Meridian

We all know that billions of pounds are being spent funding the popular furlough scheme, but there are still millions of people who have received no financial help from the government, and many of these people run small businesses in our region.

The campaign to help this group has gained increasing support in recent months. For these small company directors and freelance workers, the government purse strings remain pulled tight.  

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee:

Nigel Bartlett owns an events business in Andover, which until recently employed 18 people, most of whom were furloughed or part furloughed. 

Turnover last year was about £4,000,000, building exhibition stands like at last years Southampton Boat Show. 

Nigel Bartlett owns an events business in Andover Credit: ITV News Meridian

However since lockdown, Nigel's business has invoiced nothing, and so he has no income, unlike his workers. 

  • Nigel Bartlett, Small business owner:

There is a whole range of people who don't qualify for the governments income support schemes, who are now campaigning for equal treatment.  

They include freelancers on short term pay-as-you-earn contracts, and people like Gemma Sutton from Lewes in East Sussex, who started a business less than a year ago. 

  • Gemma Sutton, Playgroup owner:

The plight of these forgotten workers was the subject of a protest in London earlier this month, where supporters included ITV's money saving expert Martin Lewis.  

  • Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert:

Also at that protest was the MP for Brighton Pavillion who's a member of a two hundred strong all party group of MPs, still hopeful that the government will help those who've missed out.

Caroline Lucan MP also attended the protest in London Credit: ITV News Meridian

There are some gaping loopholes in the scheme which just need to be closed and all we are asking from Rishi Sunak is to do what he presumable thought he was doing by putting the scheme in place, make sure it works for the people on the ground.

Caroline Lucas MP- Brighton Pavillion, Green

A re-thing by the government can't come soon enough for Nigel, who's already had to make the tough decision to make six of his 18 workers redundant.

The Government sent ITV News Meridian this statement in response:

Our support package is one of the most comprehensive in the world, with a £160billion package of initial support, which includes our job retention scheme, loans and grants, tax deferrals, and more than £6.5billion injected into the welfare safety net.

Government statement