Home Finance Rishi Sunak 'U-turn': Chancellor urged to address SEISS & IR35 'blind spot'...

Rishi Sunak 'U-turn': Chancellor urged to address SEISS & IR35 'blind spot' in budget


Rishi Sunak will face intense scrutiny in the coming days as the next Budget is laid out. The Chancellor is expected by many to extend coronavirus themed support measures such as the furlough scheme and SEISS, with some calling for the fourth grants to address certain “blind spots”.

Chris Bowles, a director at Old Mill, commented on this: “One area that absolutely needs some clarification is what the Treasury plans to do around extending government support for both businesses and workers.

“The Prime Minister has already provided his Chancellor with a platform by stating that his government is committed ‘not to pull the rug out’ from people relying on support packages.

“The Office for National Statistics has just revealed a marked drop in the number of self-employed people in the UK so it’s essential the government beefs up its support in this area, particularly for freelancers.

“There have been repeated calls to rethink its approach to IR35 or off payroll working so maybe there’s scope for another of their famous u-turns?

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“The third self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) grant ran from November 2020 to the end of January so, we are also anticipating news on the fourth SEISS grant, which may now plug the gaps by including those recently self-employed individuals excluded from previous grants.

“Sunak also appears to have a ‘blind spot’ (maybe deliberately) in terms of helping the directors of limited companies who will need to play an important role in driving the nation’s future growth in the recovery phase… so perhaps now is the time to bring them in from the cold?”

Similar sentiment was shared by Liron Smadja, a Director of Global Expansion Marketing at Fiverr, who had the following to say: “Throughout the pandemic, gaining SEISS eligibility has been a battle for the self-employed, with around three million workers being excluded from support until this point.

“Although the road-map announcement on Monday fell short of offering reassurance for those that won’t be back at work before April 30 (the proposed ending of the furlough scheme), thankfully the next SEISS grant should remedy this.

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“The government is finally recognising the tens of thousands of self-employed workers that have been left out in the cold until now by offering freelancers grants of up to £7,500.

“This announcement is positive news for the struggling self-employed.

“But insufficient government support has already had such a detrimental impact on freelancers, that if this scheme is withdrawn in May, the self-employed will suffer tremendously.

“After almost a year of uncertainty and financial struggle, freelancers need to be assured that they will be supported throughout the final phase of the pandemic.

“As the nation transitions out of lockdown, the government must recognise the importance of supporting the self-employed as we embark on the road to economic recovery.”

Many argue the self-employed need further support from the Government as the sector itself has been hit particularly hard by coronavirus.

This week, ONS statistics on employment levels revealed the number of self-employed workers in the UK workforce has plummeted.

The ONS data revealed the number of self-employed people in the UK fell to 4,374,000, a drop of 653,000 from the same time last year.

According to analysis from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) warning that following a decade of continuous growth, this took the total number in the self-employed sector back to levels not seen since 2013.

Derek Cribb, the CEO of IPSE, commented on this and also added additional calls for Rishi Sunak: “Ahead of the Budget, this sharp fall in the number of self-employed people should be a stark warning to the Chancellor and the government that there are still an unacceptable number of freelancers who are excluded from support – and that this exclusion is costing them their businesses.

“There was continuous growth in the self-employed sector for over a decade before the pandemic, which boosted both innovation in the economy and also the UK’s overall employment rate.

“If the government wants to stave off drastic rises in unemployment, it must offer comprehensive support to all self-employed groups and also rethink the seriously damaging changes to IR35 tax rules.”

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