How kind of Rishi Sunak to announce aid for self-employed workers who are likely to lose money because of the coronavirus crisis – except he didn’t did he?
He made a vague promise that we (This Writer is self-employed) might be able to get a grant of up to 80 per cent of our profits, which is taxable, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month – but not until at least the beginning of June, more than two months from now.
Oh, but we can claim Universal Credit in the meantime – except we can’t, because thousands upon thousands of people are queuing online and on the phone and the Department for Work and Pensions simply can’t cope with the deluge. We will lose valuable time just trying to announce that we want to claim, and even more in the processing of that claim.
Employees of companies who signed up to the government’s scheme for them can get their money straight away. Why not the self-employed?
Is this some back-handed attack on people who actually contribute to the economy on their own initiative?
Here’s a visual representation of the way Sunak and the Tories expect us to live:
This is how @RishiSunak expects all freelancers, self-employed and zero hour workers to eat until the beginning of June. Bountiful. We should be so grateful for the scraps that are being handed down to us. pic.twitter.com/qE3yBvMg8x
— Marcus. 🇯🇲 🇮🇳 (@marcus_bernard) March 26, 2020
It has already attracted flack.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the delay was unacceptable: “If people cannot get access to the scheme until June it will simply be too late for millions. People need support in the coming days and fortnight. Asking people to rely on Universal Credit when more than 130,000 people are queuing online will be worrying to many people, so there is a real risk that without support until June the self-employed will feel they have to keep working, putting their own and others’ health at risk.”
Stephen Timms, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, pointed out that a wait until June simply isn’t practical: “Few will have enough in the bank to tide them over until then, so they’ll have to rely on Universal Credit in the meantime. The Committee heard yesterday that that system is already buckling under the pressure of half a million new claims. The Government must now do all it can to shore it up, so people get the money they need, and quickly. And the Advance, payable up-front to those who need it, should be made non-repayable.”
Sunak said devising a scheme had been “difficult” and it would be “operationally complicated” – but this has attracted no sympathy from anybody who knows anything at all about it.
I've worked for the best part of 18 months establishing a business. Our income comes from football clubs who face huge cash flow issues. We are a partnership so no PAYE but we all pay through tax returns + VAT.
Before this I ran a business for 10 years.
My entitlement is zero.
— Tim K (@TAK_twittter) March 26, 2020
It’s a con. Simple. Absolutely disgusting
— Adam Curtis (@AdamCur55043237) March 26, 2020
Breaking: Self-employed advised to stop eating until end May, when some assistance might or might not start to become available. Those encountering difficulty not eating for two months are advised to go fuck themselves.
— simon maginn (@simonmaginn) March 26, 2020
It’s the biggest advert for implementing a Universal Basic Income scheme – in which everybody will receive enough money to support them, regardless of their circumstances – that the public could be shown.
Sunak and the other Tories have squirmed and dissembled and eventually brought forward scheme after scheme that is incredibly complicated – which means they are likely to go wrong, to the detriment of the people they are supposed to be helping.
UBI is simplicity itself – and has a lot of support:
Instead of leaving the self employed to wait until June, implement Universal Basic Income now – and ensure the unemployed and those with their hours cut get it too https://t.co/Zyuzh96P1p
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 26, 2020
— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) March 26, 2020
It's no mistake – it's deliberate.
— makejamnotwar #BlackLivesMatter #FreeJulianAssange (@upsadaizy) March 26, 2020
— Stop UK Poverty (@StopUKPoverty) March 26, 2020
Its a mess far simpler to award a Universal Basic Income
— #A man without property #LoveNHS (@wezlangdon) March 26, 2020
UBI – it’s simple, it’s popular, and it’s immediate. But Sunak wants to bring in something complicated, slow (if it actually happens at all) and discriminatory. Why not get in touch with him and tell him which you would prefer?
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