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Dentists are begging Government to extend coronavirus support schemes as seven in 10 private practices say they will go bust before the end of summer

by Lavonne Beveridge (2020-08-16)

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Dentists are begging Government to extend coronavirus support schemes as seven in 10 private practices say they will go bust before the end of summer.

Their calls have been backed by more than 100 MPs, including John McDonnell, former shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, and Harriet Harman, a former cabinet minister and current Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham. 

A in a bid to get the issue debated in parliament.  

Dentists from across the UK want Government to raise the £50,000 cap on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and make it easier for them to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. 

Specifically, they want business rate relief to be extended to all dental practices, medical and aesthetics clinics and any other small business in the healthcare industry. 

All routine dental treatment was stopped and practices ordered to close in March

All routine dental treatment was stopped and practices ordered to close when the nationwide lockdown was imposed on 23 March, with only limited local urgent dental care left in place to handle emergencies.  

Patients can currently only be seen at an urgent dental care service after a referral via the triage system from their regular dental practice and cannot simply drop in. 

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Some NHS dental practices have qualified for funding to get them through this time of uncertainty but others are falling through the gaps. 

Many are not eligible for business rates relief as their practices have a rateable value of more than £15,000 while many self-employed dentists earn above the £50,000 threshold so are also unable to claim support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.  

For these practices, cash is running out yet business rates, vaping slogan rent and bills must still be paid.

As a result, one in five practices claims it will not survive the month.

More than 70 per cent of practices predict they will be financially sustainable for a maximum of three months. 

This has left them with no option but to apply for a coronavirus business interruption loan, yet according to a , Labour MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields and undersigned by 102 other MPs, over 90 per cent of applicants have been unable to secure credit

The letter, dated 21 April, also highlighted that more than two thirds of practices believe they won't be able to restore pre-pandemic levels of patient access. 

The letter said: 'Dentists are frontline health professionals providing a vital service to communities, and the whole sector is facing financial ruin. You have the power to prevent this.'

It proposed three steps the Chancellor could take to ease the strain on dental professionals. 

1.

Raise the £50,000 cap on support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme 

2. Intervene to ensure easier access to the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme 

3. Extend business rates relief to all practices

Despite the Prime Minister encouraging those who cannot work from home to go to work from Wednesday this week, dental practices are still not able to open. 

MPs and dental professionals have warned not only does this affect business owners and those in the dentistry industry but also the future of public health. 

Martin Woodrow, chief executive of the British Dental Association, said: 'Private practice remains a core concern for the BDA.

We are undeterred and will continue to press the Government for an equitable resolution. 

'We are using powerful evidence, which comes directly from our members, to demonstrate the urgent and incontrovertible needs of the dental industry to the Government.' 

A Government Spokesperson said: 'We're taking unprecedented action at speed to support businesses, jobs and our economy.

'This includes our various loan schemes supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, paying 80 per cent of furloughed workers' wages, tax deferrals and introducing cash grants of up to £25,000 for small companies.

'Our new Bounce Back Loan Scheme will ensure that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating can get finance in a matter of days.'



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