Write to your MP: how independent practitioners can call for greater support from government during the COVID-19 crisis

Author: Paddy Smith, Public Affairs Manager

Over the past month the Government has announced its interventions to support businesses and workers through the COVID-19 crisis. These have included loans and financial support through the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Job Retention Fund.

As is usually the case with government schemes − however well-intentioned and particularly when programmes have to be devised and implemented in a short space of time − people will always fall between the cracks. This has certainly become evident within the income protection support schemes, as company directors who pay themselves through dividends are not eligible for financial support. Estimates suggest that this could be as many as two million business owners.

One-in-ten CIPD members are independent, working outside of organisations performing a range of important functions. David D’Souza highlighted in his recent blog that CIPD members who are independent practitioners are some of our brightest and best, and play an important role across the CIPD Board, branches and communities. A number of these independent members will fall into the category of being a director of a limited company who pay themselves primarily in dividends, and therefore cannot access government support.

As a result, the CIPD is lobbying on their behalf to ask the Government to extend the support schemes to allow them to access the support.

What are CIPD doing to lobby the Government?

The CIPD are in contact with officials from HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on this subject (as well as other issues relating to the coronavirus). We have raised the gaps in support with them, making clear that it affects a number of our members.

We have been encouraged by recent news, for example when the Government extended the cut-off date for furlough eligibility from 28 February to 19 March, suggesting there is an openness to making changes. We also learnt that Small Business Minister, Paul Scully, is working to provide the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, with ideas to extend the scheme to support small company directors. We welcome this.

We are also in conversation with other organisations about what can be done. We have spoken to The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), and supported their calls for further support the self-employed. We will also be speaking to ICAEW, the professional body for chartered accountants in England and Wales, who are looking at ways to extend support.

What can I do to lobby the Government?

With Parliament returning this week, we are encouraging our independent members to contact their MP to ask them to make representations to the Government on their behalf. Writing to your MP is a great way to raise awareness and ask them to represent you. You can find advice on how to do that, and a template letter, below.


Contacting your MP

Your local Member of Parliament has the power to make change and to make representations on your behalf. This is true regardless of whether or not you voted for them.

It may seem daunting to write to your MP but it is their job to represent you. They and their staff are used to receiving a vast number of emails and letters every day, and making representations on their behalf.

What can they do?

What they are able to do might depend on their position. If they are part of the Government, for example, they will be able to have conversations ‘behind the scenes’, whereas if they are an opposition MP and/or backbencher, they will be able to raise your issue in a number of ways:

  • vote on issues in Parliament
  • ask questions in Parliament, either verbally or written
  • request a debate in Parliament
  • write to the relevant Minister.

To maintain social distancing, Parliament is going to be running in a different manner to usual – including virtually – and so this may impact upon what your MP is able to do at the moment. However, that won’t stop them representing you.

How do I find out who my local MP is?

You can find your local MP through www.theyworkforyou.com. This will provide you with their profile, voting record, expenses, social media accounts and can link through to their personal website (if available). You can also write an email to them through the website.

How do I contact my MP?

MPs usually have an office in their constituency and one in Westminster. You can call their office, send an email or a letter. Their website should provide the contact information, or you can make contact through www.theyworkforyou.com .

Tips for writing to your MP

  • Include your name and address – MPs can only represent their own constituents. This tells them that they are definitely dealing with a constituent and saves them time having to reply to you asking to confirm whether you are a constituent or not.
  • Keep it brief – one or two pages maximum. Make sure it is concise and to-the-point, and stick to this issue for now so they know what to focus on. Don’t add how unhappy you are about the bin collection or potholes, save that for another letter.
  • Make it personal – introduce yourself and your company; explain how long it has been running and the valuable work you do – for example, do you help SMEs with basic employment law? Or advise on diversity & inclusion, such as how to close their gender pay gaps? Tell them, but don’t include your whole biography.
  • Explain your situation – tell them the impact of not being eligible for government support, on you, your family, your business and employees.
  • Ask them to do something – set out what you would like to do about it, what actions you want them to take. Some ideas are listed above, but do outline how they can help the situation. Our advice would be to raise the issue in Parliament with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
  • Ask for a response – outlining what they have done on your behalf.

Template letter


[Insert your address]

Dear [MP name]

My name is [insert name] and I am a constituent of yours in [name of constituency]. I’m writing to you to request that you raise the issue of self-employment support with the Chancellor on my behalf.

I work as [insert information of company; work the company does; how many people, if any, you employ].

I am one of the estimated 2 million business owners that is out of scope of the support packages announced by the Chancellor. As a result, [include personal circumstances and impact of lack of government support].

I am therefore asking you to raise this important issue with the Chancellor and his team in Parliament.

I’d be grateful if you could respond to me outlining the steps you have taken on my behalf.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert name]


If you’d like any assistance with this, please do get in touch at P.Smith@cipd.co.uk

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