Havant dad crippled by lockdown says Rishi Sunak is like 'Father Christmas' after Budget splurge

RISHI Sunak has been hailed as the ‘Father Christmas’ of the coronavirus pandemic by a struggling dad who has battled to make ends meet during lockdown.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 6:18 pm
George 'Topsy' Turner pictured with his daughter Harriet, six, at Emsworth Park play area on 6 January 2020 Picture: Habibur Rahman

George 'Topsy' Turner, of Havant, lavished praised on the chancellor following his Budget announcement in the House of Commons, where he pledged to extend the furlough scheme until the end of September – and boost support grants for the self-employed.

Mr Turner, a single dad-of-one who owns Innovation Fitness in Emsworth, had been left financially crippled by lockdown, which forced gyms to close.

The 49-year-old said he was given a fresh hope as Mr Sunak vowed to use all the government’s ‘fiscal firepower’ to help people through the rest of the pandemic.

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Reacting to the latest announcement by the Chancellor, Mr Turner said: ‘The man’s Father Christmas as far as I’m concerned. He is fantastic.

‘I’m not a limited company, I’m a soul trader. So to hear that we’re going to get some more grant support is fantastic news because it has been really tough.

‘I suffered a mental breakdown just after Christmas due to the financial strain I was under. I had just had enough. I’d lost my wife two years ago, leaving me with just my six-year-old daughter and life just got too much.

‘I’d had enough with everything and let things get on top of me, with trying to keep paying the bills. So what the chancellor has said is a breath of fresh air and I really hope he is good to his word.’

The furlough scheme pays 80 per cent of employee’s wages for those out of work during the pandemic.

This will carry on past the proposed end of lockdown measures in June, announced by the prime minister last week.

Meanwhile, some 600,000 more self-employed people will be eligible for government help as Mr Sunak widened access to government grants.

A fourth grant in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will run from February to April, covering up to 80 per cent of three months’ trading profits up to £7,500.

A fifth grant will be launched in May, running until September, with people who filed their tax returns for 2019-20 by midnight Tuesday now eligible to apply for the support grants.

A £5bn ‘restart grant’ pot will also help leisure, personal care, fitness and accommodation businesses get back on their feet with a one-off payment of up to £18,000.

Mr Turner said: ‘It’s been frightening trying to make ends meet as a single parent. I have been supported already with government grants, they’ve been a lifeline. Without them I would have collapsed. So I can’t fault the government.’