EAST Renfrewshire’s MP has called on the UK Government to extend help for businesses by filling “gaping holes in support for freelance and excluded workers.”

Kirsten Oswald made the comments after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new package of support for businesses last week.

As part of a £4.6billion package, 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure sites across the UK will be able to claim a grant of up to £9,000.

A further £594million was announced for local authorities and devolved administrations to support businesses not eligible for grants, although the Treasury later stated that the £375m destined for Scotland would contribute to funding already guaranteed by the UK Government.

Ms Oswald claims the new package fails to address the problem of three million workers excluded from the support they need to see them through the pandemic.

She wants the Chancellor to fix gaps which leave self-employed, freelance workers and limited company directors with “nothing,” make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent and extend it to those on legacy benefits and increase statutory sick pay to ensure all those affected by the coronavirus “can afford to take time off and stop spreading it.”

Ms Oswald said: “I have been approached by large numbers of people in East Renfrewshire who found themselves with limited or no access to UK Government support packages.

“Those excluded from support include those who were recently self-employed or worked in the growing gig economy or are directors of small companies.

"Almost a year after the disruption to their working life began, they are still excluded from these packages.”

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Sunak stressed that the Scottish Government has the power to offer more support to those in need during the current crisis.

He added: “They have the ability to raise tax to fund a permanent uplift in the welfare system.”