Commenting on today’s Treasury Committee report 'Economic Impact of Coronavirus: Gaps in Support', Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:
“This report mirrors the experience of thousands of barristers across England and Wales. Too many people are locked out of government support measures. We have been making this point repeatedly for months now, publicly, directly to government ministers and officials and, in the last couple of weeks, by hundreds of letters flooding into constituency MPs’ inboxes from barristers who are struggling to stay afloat as their work has disappeared.
“One of the Bar Council’s recommendations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is aimed at the same, particularly vulnerable people whom the Treasury Committee report identified - those newly self-employed who, through no fault of their own, don’t have a 2018-19 tax return. We agree with the Committee that the government should accept other forms of evidence to demonstrate eligibility for SEISS. Our own research shows that without support, 71% of barristers in their first seven years of practice, won’t be able to survive past October, and over half of all self-employed barristers will have left the profession by then. The future of the barristers’ profession, like others, hinges on such small changes to government support.
“We, and the million-plus people who have lost livelihoods during lockdown need the Chancellor to take these concerns seriously – they won’t just disappear. But if the government chooses not to support those the Treasury Committee identifies, much of the experience and talent at the Bar will be lost to the public forever and the justice system will be all the poorer for that.”
Notes to editors
- The Bar Council has five recommendations for the Treasury.