Pressure mounts on Sunak to adopt DISS

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking increasingly isolated in his decision not to adopt the Directors’ Income Support Scheme.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland’s Executive announced that it would adopt a version of DISS from January 21st, to “provide financial support to company directors” hit by covid-19.

And on Monday in the House of Commons, six MPs launched and signed an Early Day Motion calling for DISS to be ‘urgently implemented.’ The motion has since doubled its supporters.

'Raise the plight of PSCs'

In addition, Tracy Babin MP has tabled a bill which is already onto its second reading asking the government to assess and close the gaps in financial support for pandemic-hit workers.

Also, Owen Thompson MP has secured a debate on Jan 25th, ‘Support for limited company directors during the covid-19 outbreak,’ in which he will “raise the plight” of such workers.

“People are getting increasingly desperate,” says Caroline Lucas MP, who has tweeted her support for both Ms Babin’s bill and the DISS EDM.

“Directors of small, limited companies that take income in dividends have all been utterly abandoned by this government. My mailbox is full of heart-breaking stories of despair”.

'This shows it can be done'

Rebecca Seeley Harris, who drafted the DISS, said on Friday that she and the scheme’s supporters like Forgotten Ltd and the FSB, were still “waiting to hear back” from HMT.

“This shows it can be done,” she said on social media to Jesse Norman, the financial secretary to the Treasury, referring to Northern Ireland's adoption of the DISS variant.

“[Although] the NI grant is just a starting grant,” she added, “I believe NI are [planning on] distributing more [money] but, it does lead the way, hopefully, for the UK.”

'No meaningful recovery'

Pressing the government in an impassioned address in the House of Commons, Labour’s Ms Babin said: “The DISS could help support company directors.

“[It’s] really important because there will be no meaningful recovery if there aren't any businesses left standing to employ people.”

“It is not just a financial matter,” added Tory MP Heather Wheeler, a DISS supporter. “I am concerned about the mental health of some of the constituents I am receiving emails from.”

'You should be compensated'

Yet neither Mrs Wheeler nor any other Conservative MP has so far signed the DISS EDM, which is overwhelmingly being supported by the SNP (eight of its 13 signatories).

On Twitter however, veteran Tory John Redwood MP said over the weekend: “Still many self-employed and small businesses [are] left without government financial help.

“If you are stopped from working and trading [because of coronavirus impacts] you should be compensated. I keep on pressing ministers to do better.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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