THE Tory Government must U-turn on its lack of Covid support for the self-employed as its "abject failure" to provide "a single penny" has cost lives, the SNP have said.

More than half of the self-employed workers in the UK have seen their income fall to 20% or less of what they were earning before the pandemic struck, a survey has indicated.

The ten minute rule bill, to be put to the House of Commons today by Labour MP Tracy Brabin, would help those “worrying about how they will pay bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over their head,” according to SNP shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss.

“The lack of support from the UK Treasury has tragically cost lives, as we found out last month,” she added.

In December, the SNP say they were made aware of eight people who had taken their own lives who were known to Excluded UK - an organisation that represents the millions of self-employed people who have lost work due to the pandemic but have not qualified for financial support from the UK Government.

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The SNP has said that while other countries across the EU have delivered much-needed support for the self-employed, Boris Johnson and the UK Cabinet have “failed miserably” on the issue.

Thewliss said: "There is no excuse for this abject failure by the Tory Government - other countries across Europe have delivered billions in support for self-employed people, including our neighbours in Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Germany. What’s more, UK ministers have been told time and again about the devastating impact of their disregard for this group.”

A survey by Excluded UK of over 3000 respondents found over half had seen their income fall to 20% or less of what they received before the pandemic, and that half had taken on personal debt.

The National: Labour's Tracy Brabin will be introducing the billLabour's Tracy Brabin will be introducing the bill

A third have said they are struggling with their mental health; 80% said they are stressed, anxious and have trouble sleeping, and 14% said they are experiencing thoughts of suicide and self harm.

The Resolution Foundation estimates that one in three people in self-employment, a total of 1.7 million, are at risk of losing their income - including around 330,000 in Scotland.

Commenting on the bill, Thewliss said: "Boris Johnson has U-turned on almost everything else – he must do the same on support for these 3 million people who have been shamefully ignored for 10 months under his watch.”

She went on: "The UK Government is failing miserably to meet its responsibilities and deliver a financial package for the 3 million excluded who have been living without a single penny of support for 10 months now.

“The SNP has repeatedly pressed for support for the self-employed … [and] UK ministers have repeatedly ignored all of these proposals. They must wake up to the urgency of this situation and take the necessary steps to ensure no one is left struggling to get by in the face of this unprecedented emergency.”

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The Covid-19 Financial Assistance (Gaps in Support) Bill will be introduced to the Commons by Brabin, who has represented Batley and Spen since the by-election following the murder of Jo Cox.

If passed, it would require the Government to undertake an assessment of any gaps in financial support provided to individuals, businesses and industries over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It would also mean that the Government must “report to Parliament on steps it intends to take in connection with any such gaps; and for connected purposes”.

Thewliss, who also sits as co-chair of the Excluded UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), has repeatedly raised concerns for the welfare of those who have been “left behind” and excluded for 10 months from the coronavirus support brought in by the UK Government at the beginning of the pandemic.

The SNP MP has sponsored the bill with other members of the APPG, whose “incredible hard work” she praised.

The UK Treasury spokesperson said: "As the Chancellor set out in the House earlier in the week, of the returns we have from people who are majority self-employed, 95% qualify and are eligible for support.

"In the case of the 5% of people who are majority self-employed and do not qualify for support, the average income of those people is £200,000, and it is right that we target support to those who most need our help."