It’s time to help the self-employed!

First published on 23 March 2020 by Alastair
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  • General News
  • HMRC

The economy is going to fall over a cliff. That much is clear, but little else when it comes to this hellish virus – other than the fact that the numbers infected will ramp up considerably in the next few weeks and our heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones.  While we don’t know the prognosis, nor the eventual date when the all-clear will sound, we do know that the government it taking unprecedented steps to help many businesses.  What follows is not to criticise them, because they are clearly striving manfully to do the very best they can for the citizens of this country, but it is to make a number of points that will, I suspect, resonate with many business owners and also the self-employed.

Now, it may be that today, or in the next few days, we see support for the self-employed increased massively.  At the time of writing, they have been hung out to dry, as have many business owners.

Tax and VAT holidays are all very well, and certainly to be welcomed, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the tax will still have to be paid, so in effect what businesses are getting is a loan.

For the self-employed in particular, that’s not what they need.  For the sole trader working from home, rates relief is of no value.  For business owners who can, at least, know that their staff will be paid, that’s great, but if no income is coming in then where it the money to pay the tax loans and indeed their suppliers, some of whom may be the aforementioned self-employed.

Surely, HMRC can look at last year’s tax returns and pay a percentage of that income to the self-employed as they have promised to do for those who are employees?  For new start businesses, why can’t even a percentage of last year’s employed income be paid?  We are in uncertain, unprecedented times. The government has generally responded well to what is an almost impossible state of affairs.  However, the self-employed, numbering around five million, need support too.

Stewart McKinnon, Director

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