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Lack of Government support ‘heartbreaking’, says royal wedding dressmaker

Megan Baynes, PA
·3 min read

The woman who embroidered wedding gowns for the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge said she still fears losing her home as she has been excluded from Government support throughout the pandemic.

Chloe Savage, who was taken to hospital with Covid-19 in January, said she received only a £1,000 grant in November which barely covered her running costs for two weeks, and she has been forced to give up her workshop.

She said the last year had been “absolutely heartbreaking”.

Ms Savage, 43, who supports both the Excluded UK and ForgottenLtd campaigns, which are asking the Government for more support for self-employed and small business owners, said she was not expecting good news from Wednesday’s budget announcement.

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The Chancellor looks set to announce further support for self-employed workers, with more than 600,000 people – many of whom became self-employed in 2019/20 – now eligible for cash grants.

However, Ms Savage said the reality is around three million people have been left without support.

“Rishi (Sunak) still refuses to admit the numbers are even correct,” she said. “There are three million people out there, myself included, who will never vote Tory again.

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“If I start hoping, I am going to be disappointed,” she added.

The expert needleworker, who helped sew Meghan’s veil, told the PA news agency: “I did have a bit of support, mostly from outside individuals.

“A lovely lady set up a crowdfunder which paid two months’ worth of rent, but we are still living on a hand-to-mouth, day-to-day basis.”

She is due to begin repaying a £25,000 bounce back loan from the Government in April, but currently has no work to be able to do so.

“Writing off bounce back loans would be really good because it takes a lot of pressure off with trying to work out how we are going to repay it when we still can’t work,” she said.

Ms Savage comes from a family of dressmakers, and described the industry as a “dying” profession and said even when theatres reopen, she fears she may not have enough work.

She said: “Theatres can reopen at a certain point, but we suspect they are going to do a lot of recycling of costumes because their budgets are shot. They have lost a year’s worth of income.

“The people we work with are equally as broke and we are not sure how we are going to move forward.”

She added: “I have paid my taxes since the day I started working at 16 when I had my first Saturday job. I have not failed to work and support my three children, ever.

“It is a massive kick in the teeth, and when I actually need the help through no fault of my own. Why is it now we’re basically told we’re not worthy?”