BRIGHTON residents are being forced to watch their livelihoods ‘disintegrate’ due to huge holes in a Government support package, an MP warned.

More than one million people have not been receiving financial support from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) across the UK as they struggle to make ends meet during lockdown.

The scheme was launched in March to support people who are self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus.

It came as the lockdown forced businesses up and down the country to close, and demand for certain products plummeted.

But a great number of self-employed people do not qualify for the scheme.

The Argus:

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said it was "fundamentally unjust" to leave so many without support in recent months.

She said: “These are people who are creative, entrepreneurial, small business creators.

“Many of them in Brighton have been contacting me and telling me they have spent years building up their businesses, putting so much passion and love into them, and they are now watching them completely disintegrate and watching their livelihoods disintegrate too.

“That’s not good enough and the Chancellor of the Exchequer needs to recognise this and take action.”

She implored the Government to change its mind and "recognise that the current system is not fit for purpose".

Ms Lucas joined several other MPs, directors of small businesses which had been affected and founder of MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis in London to hand a series of petitions to the Government, urging it to revise the SEISS.

The Argus:

Mr Lewis said: "When the Chancellor’s coronavirus financial support schemes launched, I gave them an A grade but said what'd really count is the help they’d give for those who’d fallen through the cracks in the understandable rush.

"Now those cracks are fissures. That A grade has degraded.

"Many are without help and it’s the practical even more than the principles that count.

"Many of the unsupported millions are financially desperate, with huge knock-on impacts on their mental health.

"The Chancellor must ensure the state helps those excluded get back on their feet, just as he’s done for others."

Campaign group Excluded UK said there are "three million UK taxpayers (with) no meaningful Government support" to help them survive during the lockdown.

The Argus:

A spokesman for HM Treasury estimated there were one million.

He said: "We have introduced a generous and wide-ranging package of support to help as many people as possible whose income has been affected during this time, with more than 12 million claims to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

"Those who do not qualify will be able to access a range of other support, including income tax deferrals, access to a range of grants and loans and three-month mortgage holidays.

The Argus:

"We’ve also injected £6.5 billion into the welfare safety net to make it more generous.

"The Chancellor has just announced a plan to protect, support and create jobs and as the economy re-opens we will continue to adjust our support in a way that gets people back to work safely, protecting the economy and the livelihoods of people across the country."