Sunak Told 1 Million Britons Are Missing Out on Government Aid

More than one million Britons are falling through the cracks in the government’s coronavirus job support programs and remain in desperate need of aid, according to U.K. lawmakers.

The cross-party Treasury Committee, which scrutinizes the work of Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, welcomed the scale and pace of his interventions but said the conditions attached meant many remain exposed to the economic hit inflicted by the pandemic.

Particularly vulnerable are people who have recently started a new job or business; self-employed workers with annual profits above 50,000 pounds ($63,000); and those who take a large part of their income through dividends, as well as freelancers, the panel warned.

“Rolling out financial support at pace and scale has inevitably resulted in some hard edges in policy design and some critical gaps in provision,” the report said. “The government should enact recommendations to fulfill its promise of ‘doing whatever it takes’ to protect people and businesses from impact of coronavirus.”

Read More: How U.K.’s $168 Billion Virus Aid Package Is Being Rolled Out

Sunak has responded to the crisis with unprecedented support for workers. Across its two programs, the Treasury is funding the wages of more than 11 million jobs, with a price tag some say could exceed 100 billion pounds by the time it expires in October.

Despite that, job cuts are mounting and economists say unemployment could double and possibly exceed 10%, leaving many questioning how rapid the recovery from recession will be.

The crisis could also increase regional disparities, according to a separate report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It found coastal areas were notably vulnerable to both the health and economic impact of the pandemic, due to many having elderly populations, a reliance on tourism and pockets of deprivation.

Manufacturers meanwhile called for immediate economic stimulus after a survey found output at its lowest level in 30 years, orders slumping and firms cutting employment and investment.

Lobby group Make UK, which published the poll, said the industry is on track to contract by 10% this year without support such as a business rates holiday and new infrastructure projects.

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