The Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use returned business rates relief to help those who ‘urgently’ need financial support.
It comes as major supermarket chains and retailers have announced they will return their business rates relief to the Treasury.
Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have written to the Chancellor, urging him to support three million people excluded from “meaningful financial support”, including the newly self-employed, new starters denied furlough, PAYE freelancers and directors of small companies.
They also reiterated concerns about hospitality businesses in tier 2 and 3 which “have not been given sufficient funding to survive the loss of the profitable time of year”.
Andy Burnham said: “These forgotten freelancers and contractors are entrepreneurs who form the backbone of our local economy.
“They pay their taxes but have been left with little or no Government support. That is a massive injustice.
“If the Chancellor fails to fix this, the government will be sending out a very dangerous, anti-entrepreneurial message that it is too risky to strike out on your own and set up your own business.”
He said the government is “risking levelling down some of the poorest parts of the country”.
“Wet-led pubs are at the heart of communities across the North and will not be saved by what’s currently on offer from the Government. The latest offer of £1000 might buy a beer keg or two but it won’t keep them afloat until March.
“With this new windfall, the Chancellor has a golden opportunity to bring in from the cold those who have been left out. We are urging him to take it.”
Steve Rotheram said hearing the toll the lack of financial support has taken on people has been “heartbreaking”
“We can’t just walk on by and abandon them. It’s immoral.”
He said: “We know the Covid pandemic has created an unprecedented situation and everyone is doing what they can to support those who need the most help.
“Sadly, we’ve seen millions of people left out from meaningful Government support who have been in desperate need since the first lockdown in March.
“Myself and other Metro Mayors from all across England have been listening to those who have been left behind including over 600 people from the ExcludedUK and ForgottenLtd groups.”