TEST VALLEY'S once-thriving small businesses, like millions of others across the UK, continue to be ignored.

In his latest announcements, Rishi Sunak has once again shown that this government is prepared to sacrifice huge parts of the small business sector and the self-employed.

Our local MPs, Caroline Nokes and Kit Malthouse, while happy to send glossy mailings telling us how they are right behind those who have been excluded, have remained silent this week as thousands of their constituents are branded 'unviable'.

I am part of a number of small business groups in Test Valley.

Covid-19 has decimated our businesses and revenues show little sign of returning in the light of the latest restrictions on our lives.

Despite this, under the latest tweaks to the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), self-employed workers can only receive 20% of earnings as opposed to the 77% received by employees (why the imbalance?) and the three million small business owners who are excluded from the SEISS have once again been completely ignored.

We are clearly all fraudsters or 'zombie businesses' being allowed to go to the wall along with the tax revenues and jobs we previously provided.

Caroline Nokes proudly stated in her mailing that she had 'joined the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Excluded' started by the LibDems - but those are just empty words and she takes no action.

She made no contribution to the debate in the Commons on 17th September (introduced by Caroline Lucas of the Greens) despite a number of Conservative back benchers making it clear they were brave enough to stand up for their constituents and challenge their own party's Government.

I wrote to her immediately after the Chancellor's speech asking for help and a voice on behalf of a number of small business groups in the Test Valley area who are in desperate straits.

I am disappointed “ but not surprised" that I have not had a response.

David Hall