Chancellor finalising package of financial support for self-employed

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will detail plans for financial support for the self employed at the daily briefing this evening, with the likelihood of an averaging scheme to reflect variable earnings

Measures could include a form of financial support reflecting a percentage of average earnings, potentially based on tax payments paid over the last three years, or even months.  

The Treasury also has to take into account the implied benefit of the money they are not paying in VAT and tax due to the impact on their usual self employed activity.

A third of the self employed earn on average £10,000 a year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

HMRC has access to all the relevant income tax data paid by the self employed but the current tax system would have to be rapidly overhauled to calculate the potential subsidy.

The self employed sector is made up of an estimated 5.1m workers according to the Office for National Statistics, with the largest tranche being around 1m construction workers, with many self employed working in a mix of employment, from freelancers to musicians, IR35 contractors to gig workers.

The IR35 rules for contractors - off-payroll working in the private sector - which were set to come into force on 6 April, have already been deferred for one year to April 2021. This would have seen many contractors moved to employee status, rather than operating through personal service companies (PSCs).

The growth of the gig economy means that many individuals are now self employed, rather than on employees on company payrolls. The Taylor report on the gig economy highlighted the disparity between employees and the self employed.

A number of court cases have focused on the employment status of gig workers, including the Supreme Court decision in Pimlico Plumbers, which ruled that a plumber can be classed as a ‘worker’ rather than self employed, a landmark ruling in June 2018.

The daily briefing, led by the Chancellor, will be held around 5pm subject to change due to the ongoing covid-19 situation.

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