The SNP has said there is “no excuse” for the UK government’s continued failure to provide vital financial support to millions during the pandemic – including the self-employed and small business owners – at the same time as refusing to tackle tax evasion.
Stephen Flynn’s comments follow the publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) latest report on the work of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which criticises the UK government for not doing more to collect tax owed and refusing to find a way of identifying small businesses that had lost out on previous support packages – months after the outbreak.
The SNP has repeatedly called on the UK government to bring in a comprehensive financial package for those who fall through the gaps of current available support, as well as take further and more robust action to tackle tax evasion.
Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Flynn MP said said: “Even under the full furlough scheme it’s been estimated that around 3 million workers have received no support other than being told to apply for benefits.
“Thousands are facing or have been plunged into debt and financial hardship, with many struggling to put food on the table or heat their homes, because they have fallen through the gaps in available support.
“Yet, HMRC are failing miserably to tackle tax evasion – money which could be used to support those in need.
“Rishi Sunak promised to do what it takes to support everyone – that includes helping the three million who have fallen through the gaps as well as doing all he can to tackle tax evasion.
“I’ve been contacted by a number of self-employed and small business owners who have been left out of support packages.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told by the Tory government there wasn’t enough time to design a financial support system for them – this excuse no longer holds up.
“Our recovery from the economic damage caused by coronavirus will depend on a diverse and thriving small business sector.
“There’s no excuse for deliberately excluding so many hard-working small business owners from the support they need.
“If the UK government won’t take the necessary action then it must devolve the fiscal powers to Scotland so we can get the job done.
“The SNP Scottish Government have done all they can to support people and businesses in Scotland, but without borrowing powers they are continually fighting for our economy and people’s livelihoods with one hand tied behind their backs.”