By discriminating against the self-employed, Sunak is risking coronavirus spread

Rishi Sunak: Why is he discriminating against the self-employed?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to stop discriminating against people who are self-employed – because he putting them at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Sunak has announced a generous deal for employees who are ‘furloughed’ – kept in employment but unable to work because of the disease-related lockdown – of 80 per cent of their wages, up to £2,500 per month.

Self-employed people get just £94.25 a week in Universal Credit – if they can navigate the “byzantine” application procedure. And they’ll have the same if they have to claim Employment and Support Allowance after contracting the virus.

Only 16 per cent of workers accept that this amount would meet their basic needs.

It is claimed Sunak is risking public health by discriminating against the self-employed in this way, because he is incentivising self-employed taxi-drivers, couriers, other gig economy workers and zero-hours contractors to keep working while ill.

Solicitors Leigh Day were to send a pre-action letter to the government on March 23, on behalf of the Independent Workers of Great Britain union, ahead of issuing proceedings for a High Court judicial review.

The Tories say it is “operationally very difficult” to put in place a scheme for the self-employed, similar to that for employees.

But the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) says it could be assessed and delivered through the self-assessment tax system that millions of self-employed workers already use.

One thing is certain: the longer this drags on, the more self-employed people will be at risk.

And the more self-employed people come under threat, the more likely it will seem that this is the Tories’ intention.

Source: Rishi Sunak under pressure to bail out self-employed | Politics | The Guardian

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  1. Mark Bevis March 22, 2020 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    All Sunak has to do is introduce a UBI of £200-250 a week for everyone, not just the self-employed, either paid as a “tax rebate” using the existing HMRC rebate system until a full system is in place, as all (legitimate) self-employed as well as PAYE employed are already registered for tax. Or in addition to existing WTC/CTC/UC/ESA/pension/pension credits payments. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about claiming SSP or UC. For those with children the existing child benefit (which is a form of UBI already) can be upped if required.
    Thus the system could then be simplified, eg SSP and WTC and UC could then be merged into one simple payment for all as UBI. No face-to-face interrogations, no sanctions, no PIP traumas, simples. People with disabilities would just receive a higher rate of UBI. Redundant DWP staff can then be reassigned to help shifting the corpses, fixing potholes, food harvesting and litter picking as required.

    Sure, a few payments will go astray in fraudulent claims, but the total will be nothing compared to existing and previous parliamentary and corporate fraud.

    By removing the threat of destitution, the nation’s mental health strain on the NHS and other services will be reduced, and more people will have the money to employ the army of self-employed that will blossom afterwards. People wouldn’t then have to rely on foodbanks, and the precariat will be able to be more picky about who they work for, ie, employers will have to up their game. More people will be able to do work they want to do, rather than work they have no choice to do. At £200 most people would still need to work to meet their standard of living, but they wouldn’t then starve to death in periods of unemployment.

    The only additional move would be rent caps, as greedy landlords would otherwise use the introduction of UBI to just put rents up £200 a week. Even though they themselves would also receive the UBI.

    How do you pay for it? QE of course, plus make corporations actually pay the tax they are supposed to pay. In addition to the Robin Hood Tax. The 2008 crash proved you can print trillions of dollars without ramping up inflation as used to happen in previous QE attempts such as the Weimar Republic.

  2. Jeffrey Davies March 23, 2020 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Trouble is having monies of this lot I wonder you’d have to pay it back this lot only give monies to people like Branson us we get to pay it back you bet

  3. Audrey Pool March 23, 2020 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    It’s not just the self employed who have been let down in this situation,anyone on zero hours contracts has been equally abandoned. The best they can hope for is to claim the paltry sum of universal credit (if you can successfully negotiate the system and can afford to wait 5 weeks with no money). Other countries have dealt with things so people don’t suffer as much hardship and the help has been much more universal. Johnson and his cronies are much more concerned with maintaining the status quo.

  4. juliette gazzard March 23, 2020 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Of course he is aiding and abetting the spread. With the prospect of no income or the tender dysfunctional mercies of the UC system it’s hobson’s choice isn’t it?

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