Press release

AOP welcomes Treasury Committee report into economic impact of coronavirus

15 June report indicates the Committee has listened to the AOP in calling for fairness in government support for workers who have lost out financially

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) welcomes today’s House of Commons Treasury Committee report, 15 June 2020: Economic impact of coronavirus: Gaps in support. The report shows that the Committee has listened to the AOP and the hundreds of other organisations and individuals who are calling for fairness in government support for workers who have lost out financially as a result of COVID-19.

The AOP drew the Committee’s attention to five groups of members who have lost out on support due to the way the rules have been drawn up, repeating arguments that we have previously put to the Chancellor:

  1. Self-employed people who have not been self-employed for long enough to qualify for the scheme but now have no work because of COVID-19
  2. Self-employed people with incomes just above the £50k ceiling for support, who get no help at all as a result
  3. Company directors who route part of their income via dividends, even if that income is the result of work rather than unearned investments
  4. Employed people who have just changed jobs or were in the process of changing jobs
  5. People with "portfolio careers" who derive their incomes from both employed and self-employed work. If their self-employed income was less than 50% of their total income during the qualifying period, they are unable to benefit from the support to self-employed people

The Committee’s report says that “hundreds of thousands of individuals are suffering financial hardship through no fault of their own”.

It calls for the Government to:

  • Extend employee support to new starters
  • Allow all self-employed people to benefit, regardless of their earnings, up to the same limit that applies to employees (£2500 a month) 
  • Allow directors of limited companies who pay themselves through dividends to benefit from government support

The Committee suggests that directors of limited companies should declare the proportion of dividends that have come from company profits, and that HMRC should have powers to investigate these declarations.

Commenting, Kathy Jones, AOP Policy Advisor, said: “The AOP welcomes the Treasury Committee report and appreciates the Committee’s recognition of the importance to the economy of the people who are losing out because of the arbitrary and unfair rules set for government support. We call on the Government to consider the report seriously and quickly, and to act on the recommendations as soon as possible.”

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact Vicky Vine, Communications Director, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected]  or telephone 020 7549 2046.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists


The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk