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Those excluded from government support have been pushed to the edge and had businesses ruined. Jessica Beard speaks to those affected

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The increase in electric car sales last year compared with 2019, despite the pandemic

Millions of self- employed workers have battled through 12 months with no income, after being repeatedly locked out of government grants.

Campaign group ExcludedUK has estimated that three million workers have fallen through the cracks, receiving little to no money from the furlough or self-employed schemes.

MPs have criticised the Treasury’s “unfair” exclusion and put pressure on the Chancellor to overhaul the rules that have pushed many to the brink of financial ruin.

Rishi Sunak has faced a growing backlash from those struggling to get by on little to no income. MPs of all stripes have called for changes to be announced at the Budget on March 3. The Treasury claimed it had “done all it could to support jobs and livelihood­s” but acknowledg­ed it had not been possible to support everyone.

Many have been forced to give up the self- employed dream and close their businesses for good, in many cases after years of success, and now struggle to pay the bills.

A spokesman at ExcludedUK said: “We have to hope that the Chancellor recognises the chasms in his extremely generous schemes and corrects this injustice. The three million excluded have experience­d a catastroph­ic impact on their jobs, businesses and family.” He added: “This has led to mental health issues, debt, humiliatio­n and in some cases loss of life.”

‘I believed Sunak but he hasn’t protected me. I’ve lost everything’

Wendy Yam, new business didn’t qualify for help

Wendy Yam, whose name has been changed, was left homeless in 2020 when she fled her home because of domestic abuse and had no income as she was excluded from support. Ms Yam, who had set up a dog walking business from her home, was not eligible for government support as her home was her business premises and she had not yet declared profit in her first year of setting up. Ms Yam receives £409 a month in Universal Credit and lives on food packages. She is £250 short on her rent payments each month.

She said: “I really believed Sunak’s first speech but he hasn’t protected me and I’ve lost everything.”

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