I don’t usually mention the budget in posts. On a general scale it doesn’t affect me very much. I am one of the insignificant financial majority at the bottom of the pile who makes very little difference to the economy but enjoys what they do. But 2017 has been troubling for me and many people like me.
For years the Government has been championing those who stick their neck out and start their own business in whatever capacity. The fact is, the self employed look great on official Government figures. We aren’t entitied to most benefits and no matter how little we earn we never appear on the unemployment lists. So whether you’re earning above or below the pre tax allowance it doesn’t matter. We are still classed as employed.
Several carrots have been dangled at prospective business starters over time, and such morsels have been gladly accepted by us. Working tax credits (not exclusively for the self employed of course) provided you fit a very long list of check boxes. Claimable expenses – no different to other businesses. And last year the option to bail out of your NI’s. Previously they were compulsory regardless of your earning potential but then HMRC began allowing those on smaller incomes the option to cash them in.
And I suppose many of us did, in the hope that one day we would be able to top them up, and that one day, perhaps, we might be able to retire.
So this year, hiking NI’s with the implication that the self employed do not pull their weight with the tax man is an unsurprising stab in the back. It’s just a way of drumming up income from a group of people who can’t really fight back. So what happened to the millions that were going into the Government coffers from pulling up large corporations benefiting from naively introduced tax loopholes?
The fact is that if you are self employed you are open to all sort of exploitation. You are not covered by the minimum wage. You are not covered by any employee luxuries like paid annual leave or sick pay and your hours can be anything up to 7 days a week for as many hours as you may be awake. There are no human rights where self employment are concerned. And large companies, especially those in the mail order industry have piggie-backed on this vulnerability by making their drivers self employed. This means they are not reponsible for them in any way. And believe me I know a good number of delivery drivers. And by my standards they work long hours.
Being self employed is a brave step. One that up until now has been doing the Government a favour. The fact is that a substantial number of starters didn’t go it alone to avoid paying taxes. They did it because they couldn’t find work, were discriminated against because of their age, because they couldn’t afford to retire (yes many self employed are of retirement age), or they needed flexibility in their lives due to caring roles, young families, health issues or perhaps they needed to top up other employment because their other jobs just weren’t bringing in enough. The self employed are as much in financial straits as the PAYE employee but with even less income security.
The budget is an insult as it is every year, but now with the added implication, as ever, that those who aren’t paying their way are doing it to screw over the system rather than that they were pushed into it through economic issues. As usual, and with increasing regularity, the rug is being pulled out from under the feet of those already crippled in our current economic climate.