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Ex-NI football team chef taking legal action against UK Government over Covid-19 hardship fund


Rishi Sunak with Boris Johnson (Toby Melville/PA)

Rishi Sunak with Boris Johnson (Toby Melville/PA)


Rishi Sunak with Boris Johnson (Toby Melville/PA)

A former chef to the Northern Ireland football squad is taking legal action against the UK Government over his exclusion from a Covid-19 hardship fund.

Brian Donaldson claims he suffered discrimination by being unlawfully kept out of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The initiative was set up by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus lockdown, but it has come under criticism for failing to cover some sole traders.

Mr Donaldson is ineligible for the economic aid package because he has not filed a self-assessment tax return for 2018/19.

The chef paid PAYE throughout his career, which included overseeing meals for the Northern Ireland squad at the Euro 2016 finals.

Last year he switched from employee status, going freelance in order to fully support and care for his family.

But following the lockdown in March he was left with no income.

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His self-employed status meant he did not qualify for coronavirus Job Retention Scheme either.

Mr Donaldson is involved with ExcludedNI, a lobby group which claims thousands of sole traders and micro business owners in Northern Ireland have been "left behind" in government efforts to help the regional economies during the pandemic.

His solicitor confirmed judicial review proceedings are to be brought against the UK Treasury.

Chris Doran of KRW Law said: "The operation of the SEISS has served to destroy the livelihoods of many people.

"It is unlawful and discriminates against small businesses and the self-employed."

Mr Doran claimed all efforts to secure a political resolution have failed.

"The case is being taken to force a U-turn on the abandonment of small businesses and many self-employed people," he added.

"Instead of operating a punitive fiscal policy we need to see this government doing everything within their power to support them during this unprecedented period."

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