CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has been urged not to ignore the plight of thousands of people who have “fallen through the gaps” in financial support during covid when he unveils the UK budget this week.

Eligibility rules mean just under three million people who work for themselves across the UK have had to battle through a year with no income after being repeatedly locked out of support schemes.

The self-employment income ­support scheme (SEISS) could be ­extended by the Chancellor when he unveils his spending plans this Wednesday, along with furlough ­payments for the employed.

But Sean Davis, from Ayr, is not hopeful there will be any extra help on offer for those like himself, who failed to qualify for this grant.

The 29-year-old set up his own business selling gaming merchandise and hobby supplies last year with the help of youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

He had ambitions to be open a shop in five years’ time and employ other young people – but now he fears he will have to soon close his business down.

He said: “I feel I have worked too hard to do that, but if things keep ­going the way they are going then it is certainly going to look that way ­unfortunately.

“Even though it’s not my fault, I do feel like a failure.”

The rules of the SEISS scheme means it is based on earnings in the three years up to 2019 which has led to the newly-self employed or those who don’t have records to show profits missing out. Others such as those who have earned less than 50% of their income from self-employment have also failed to qualify.

Davis has tried applying for a ­Scottish Government grant scheme for the newly self-employed, but says he has been rejected due to an error in authenticating bank details.

For the past year, he has had to rely on his wife’s income as a nurse, along with Personal Independence Payments to help with bills and £20 a month in Universal Credit.

“I am disabled – I put a lot into my business and it had started off well,” he said. “I owe a few suppliers money at the moment and it is starting to mount up.

“My mental health was already fragile and it has certainly gone downhill.”

A spokesperson for the campaign group Excluded UK said people who had missed out on support were losing their homes, being forced to sell belongings and resorting to food banks.

They said: “Ample time has passed for the issues to be rectified and we hope to see vital changes reflected in next week’s Budget. 

“We urge the Chancellor to ­recognise the impacts on those ­affected, as we hit one year since the onset of this crisis, with little to no support for some three million UK taxpayers, many of whom have been plunged into debt and poverty.”

Alison Thewliss, SNP shadow chancellor and chair for the ­Excluded UK All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “The Chancellor is failing ­miserably to follow through on his ­Government’s commitment that no-one would be left behind – as ­millions struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head as a result of being left without a single penny of support for almost a year.”

Sunak will have to outline a plan to put the UK’s finances back on track after the Covid crisis, which has led to an increase in borrowing and ­national debt now standing at £2.11 trillion.

At 97.6% of gross domestic product, the UK’s overall debt has now reached a level not seen since the early 1960s.

Yesterday Sunak warned Britain’s public finances will face “enormous strains” in the wake of the third ­national lockdown.

He said a bill for the Government’s £280 billion investment in coronavirus support will eventually have to be paid, with low interest rates leaving the nation’s finances “exposed”.

The budget is expected to include actions aimed at kickstarting the ­nation’s economy as lockdown eases over the coming months.

These include a £126 million boost for traineeships and a mortgage guarantee scheme aimed at helping aspiring homeowners with small deposits onto the property ladder.

A £5bn grant scheme for pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic in England will be announced, which will result in the devolved ­nations receiving £794m in funding through the Barnett formula.

The Scottish Government has urged the Chancellor to extend the £20 Universal Credit uplift and the furlough scheme.

In a letter to Sunak, Scotland’s ­Finance Secretary Kate Forbes called for the UK Government to support Scotland as lockdown measures are set to be eased over the next six weeks. Forbes said Joseph Rowntree Foundation research said ending the benefit uplift would lead to 500,000 being pushed into poverty.

She said: “I therefore reiterate my call for the UK Government to do the right thing and make the uplift ­permanent and extend it to legacy benefits in order to provide ­meaningful and effective long-term support as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt.”

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is also calling for the Chancellor to make the £20 a week uplift to ­Universal Credit permanent. 

CAS social justice spokesperson Nina Ballantyne said:  “The uplift has been key for keeping many households above water. Making it permanent next week will give people the security they need as the economy reopens.

“The Chancellor has an opportunity next week to ensure this vital support is available for families as we emerge from the pandemic.”