Self-employed: You know where you stand

These are troubled times; you don’t need me to tell you that. Everyone is looking to the Government for support help and leadership to get us all through.

The government, like governments throughout the world, have put together a raft of initiatives to help keep people in work and to provide support to businesses to help keep their business afloat.

Are these measures enough? Are these measures timely and are they going to be effective? Time as they say will tell.

We have rates burdens being cancelled, vat payments being deferred, grants will be available for businesses that operate from premises and the loan guarantee scheme has had a new re-birth in the guise of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. SSP is being extended and employers will be reimbursed like never before and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will look to cover 80% of wage costs of those likely to be laid off as a result of the present situation.

So far so good and one can only hope that the systems are in place to deliver these initiatives speedily and above all else easily.

But what of the self-employed that don’t operate from premises and are not vat registered? Well there is the deferral of their 31st July Payment on Account to 31st January 2021 and a helpline is available to contact HMRC to ask for a time to pay arrangement and that’s about it. The self-employed are being told that it’s the benefit system for them and that means Universal Credit and the maximum will be the equivalent of SSP so £90 odd a week.

When all these initiatives were being announced I thought surely not? they must be working on something better and it will be announced on Sunday for sure. But all we got was it’s “Operationally difficult” to come up with something for the self-employed. “Operationally difficult” will I think become a euphemism for “not really that important” how else can it be construed? How is a driving instructor or a motor mechanic or a hairdresser or a bookkeeper or an accountant going to react? will “operationally difficult” satisfy them?

Over the weekend lots of people have come up with all manner of ways to remove the supposed difficulty and I’m not going to add my tuppence worth to this particular debate because I shouldn’t have to. H.M. Government and HMRC are best placed to come up with a system that is fair and equitable and will allow the self-employed to keep indoors and not risk picking up or spreading the virus without worrying about having the wherewithal to feed their family.

The best they have come up with was to put you into the Universal Credit System. We have an expression that basically sums up the situation and that is “Where there’s a will there’s a way” but you actually need the will to look for the way don’t you. The self-employed may well be thinking of another expression “don’t **** down my neck and tell me it’s raining”

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