Diverse coalition of voices writes to the Chancellor

Further calls for COVID-19 support for ‘forgotten’ small business and self-employed

The Association of Optometrists (AOP), alongside a group of membership bodies, representing around 300,000 members ranging from optometrists, osteopaths and physiotherapists to market researchers and accountants, has joined forces to call for financial support  for their forgotten members who have been overlooked for Government support.  

These self-employed professionals and small businesses provide important services which have been badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but are struggling to access any of the existing schemes.

Each one of 17 organisations has spent the weeks since lockdown speaking with its members and voicing their concerns at the highest levels within government. However, although the disciplines involved are diverse, the core issues affecting these small businesses are the same and the solutions for government relatively straightforward. The groups have decided therefore to join forces to send a strong and united message to the Chancellor.

The letter calls for the Government to allow directors of small businesses access to either the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), to expedite the process of delivering funds under SEISS before it is due to go live in June, and to make the process of accessing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs) a smoother one. 

“The letter references our many thousands of members that face acute challenges in keeping their businesses afloat. Behind these businesses are hard-working people supporting their families, paying taxes and contributing to the wider economy. The impact of their disappearance would hit the country hard when it begins to emerge from the current pandemic.

Collectively the groups have welcomed the existing support and acknowledge the breadth of businesses these schemes already support but there are some very worrying gaps. The Chancellor promised he would do “whatever it takes” yet, sadly, too many businesses are being left behind. For many small businesses, June is simply too late while other business owners who pay themselves minimal salaries need to have dividends treated differently. 

We hope this diverse coalition of voices can use our collective strength to convince the Chancellor to be true to his word and amend the existing schemes to cover and support all of these vital businesses and services that need it.”

  • Henrietta Alderman, Chief Executive, Association of Optometrists
  • Oliver Coburn, Registrar, British Association of Sport Rehabilitators
  • Catherine Quinn, President, British Chiropractic Association
  • Martin Woodrow, Chief Executive, British Dental Association
  • Carey Trevill, Interim CEO, British Promotional Merchandise Association
  • Daniella Dos Santos, President, British Veterinary Association
  • Andrew Harding, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
  • Alastair McCapra, CEO, Chartered Institute of Public Relations
  • Karen Middleton, Chief Executive, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists
  • George Dunn, Chairman, College of Podiatry
  • Chris Combemale, CEO, Data and Marketing Association
  • Marian Stefani, CEO, Independent Print Industries Association
  • Stephen Mann, CEO, Institute of Faculty and Actuaries
  • Maurice Cheng, Chief Executive, Institute of Osteopathy
  • Jane Frost CBE, CEO, Market Research Society
  • Karen Lay, Chairman, Physio First
  • Graham N. Smith, Chairman, The Society of Sports Therapists


For more information, please contact Jon Gerlis MCIPR, CIPR PR and Policy Manager on [email protected] or telephone 07741 146920.