Richard Harris: Sunak helping those least likely to weather the storm

Jake Carter

March 27, 2020

parliament housing minister

Richard Harris, chief legal officer at Robert Walters Plc, has said Rishi Sunak’s announcement on 26 March focuses on helping those least likely to weather the storm.

He noted that the self-employed making profits of over £50,000 would not be part of the scheme, and as a result “this will adversely affect those in white-collar professional jobs.”

However, he said that Chancellor’s announcement does offer a package of support for vast swaths of the self-employed and freelancer community.

He said: “This is Keynesian – a new “New Deal” but with self-employed rather than big industry, and underlines the massive importance of the Gig Economy to UK PLC – and as the Chancellor put it “righting the ship”. This is a lifeline for many.”

Furthermore, Harris expressed that individuals putting large amounts of expenses against their income, who are on the edge of this threshold, may be inadvertently better off.

Notable, during the announcement, Rishi Sunak was quick to point out that many of these excluded self-employed individuals that earn over £200,000 per annum.

As with schemes with cut off points based on monitory income, there will be some individuals who sit just above the threshold who may not be pleased with the outcome.

Harris believes that, “Rishi Sunak could have implemented a more complex and graduated system to help these individuals.”

Furthermore, Harris believes that the Chancellor hinted at a caution of warning for the self-employed.

He pointed to, Rishi Sunak’s ‘observation’ as to the fairness in the differential in tax between PAYE and the self-employed.

Harris said: “The Chancellor may well be looking for those who are being bailed out to pay the ferryman for a journey across the swirling waters.”

Agency workers were not mentioned within the announcement and are technically self-employed although on the PAYE system. This group contains individuals on zero hour contracts.

Harris added: “I am hoping and expecting these people are included when the detail of the Job Retention Scheme is announced.”

There are currently over 2 million freelancers in the UK.

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