BC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty clashed with business minister Nadhim Zahawi in a heated debate this morning as she challenged the Government to provide more financial support for self-employed Britons.
The presenter won praise on Twitter after grilling the Conservative politician when he suggested the self-employed could pay themselves wages with money from their own businesses.
Munchetty said that Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend furlough to March 31 excluded the 2.9million people who are self-employed.
“Under this scheme, despite the extension , there will be thousands – tens of thousands of people – who have had no income from March this year, and will not have income until March next year,” she said.
“They’re called the excluded… what are you going to do about them?”
Mr Zahawi replied: “The self-employed, the Chancellor did the right thing and increased the amount that they are able to claim from 40 per cent to 80 per cent with the additional announcement on the furlough scheme extension.”
Referring to those who own their own businesses, Munchetty insisted: “I’m talking about those who have been excluded.”
Mr Zahawi continued: “On the excluded, these are people who have their own businesses, directors of their own businesses, who would’ve taken dividends out of their businesses…
“They have clearly had a really difficult time, but we have also put £9billion into the welfare system to try and help those people who have found it very difficult to get any other income other than dividends.”
He then added: “Of course, they can pay themselves some wages and if they are paying wages they are able to take the furlough scheme.”
Munchetty then cut across the minister: “They’re not working, they’re not earning, what are they going to pay themselves wages from?”
The minister replied: “Of course, that’s why I say to you the welfare system has had an additional £9 billion injected into it. It’s not the same income they’re used to – I understand.”
Munchetty was heard muttering: “It’s nothing,” but Mr Zahawi hit back: “How can you say it’s nothing? It’s £9 billion more into the welfare system, a £1,000 additional per family that need the help.”
The BBC presenter won praise from small business owners who said she was standing up for them on the debate.
Other viewers were divided over the interview, with one viewer tweeting: “#BBCBreakfast Ahhhh Naga please have some respect for your guests. It’s cringeworthy interviewing. “