Lib Dems’ bid for Daventry council to lobby Rishi Sunak over COVID grants is rejected

A call from the Liberal Democrats for Daventry District Council to lobby the Chancellor over three million people who have been ‘excluded’ from coronavirus support has been dismissed.
Liberal Democrats in Daventry had wanted the council to write to Rishi Sunak over coronavirus grant funding. Photo by Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty ImagesLiberal Democrats in Daventry had wanted the council to write to Rishi Sunak over coronavirus grant funding. Photo by Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Liberal Democrats in Daventry had wanted the council to write to Rishi Sunak over coronavirus grant funding. Photo by Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Councillors Jonathan Harris and Catherine Lomax had submitted a motion calling on the authority to write to Rishi Sunak, as well as Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris, to call on the government to ‘end the disparities in Government COVID-19 support packages that are currently excluding millions across the UK’.

They called for all individuals and businesses currently excluded from COVID grants to be given the support they ‘need and rightfully deserve’. They say this includes newly self-employed people; those earning less than 50 per cent income from self-employment; new starters; people who have been denied furlough or made redundant before March 19; those who are on maternity, parental or adoption leave; and directors who are paying PAYE annually or are paid in dividends.

The motion stated: “The pandemic has created great hardship. Many organisations and employers have benefited from the Government’s furlough scheme. However, there are around three million tax paying individuals who have been excluded from any form of support, through no fault of their own.

“These are often entrepreneurial individuals who take risks to create and establish new businesses or individuals who have no option but to work in a freelance capacity, such as performers and many others associated with our vital arts sector.

“It has been said that the risk of funding such individuals is too great and would provide immeasurable risk to the UK taxpayer. In the context of millions of pounds being spent on government contracts, seemingly without due process or appropriate procurement arrangements (according to the National Audit Office spending review) it is a patently flawed assumption. This group forms the backbone of business tax contributors and also makes a significant contribution to our local economy.”

But the motion was rejected at Daventry District Council’s full council meeting on December 3, as the Conservative administration did not feel it was a local enough issue to warrant them writing.

The Conservative deputy leader of the authority, Councillor Adam Brown, said: “I think each and every one of us will sympathise greatly with anyone who finds themselves in a precarious financial position because of the crisis that has befallen the whole world.

“But I do think there is something inherently unfair in the attempt to mislead people into thinking that somehow a letter from Daventry District Council will alert the Government to something that they are not already well aware of.

“This issue has been debated time and time again in parliament and the Chancellor has addressed virtually all of the points in this motion. The motion in and of itself admits it’s a national issue and not a local issue. No matter how much we care about this we are here to manage local services, we are not here to write to government to influence national policy, unless of course when it directly influences this very council. This is not a district council matter.”