/ Self employed - advice

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Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020

Probably quite a few self employed freelancers on here, especially in the outdoors profession. Can anyone shed any light or their own experience of any available help being offered by the government?

From delving into some of the help pages on the various websites it appears through a combination of having a partner who earns above a certain amount, and both of us having a very small amount of savings, I'm not eligible for some of the help offered.

I'm not ill or presenting symptoms (obviously not tested), not self isolating, work has stopped /cancelled, so SSP seems to be out. The kids are now being looked after by me (partner is NHS key worker) so 'other' work options are limited. 

Have I just been means tested inadvertently? Does the savings rules apply to the 80% being offered to laid off workers? 

Any pointers or tips welcomed. 

Thanks, 

Stuart. 

​​

Post edited at 09:00
BnB 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

The 80% isn’t technically 80% and it isn’t to laid-off workers. It’s to the employers of permanent employees who are being benched on full pay, ie earning 100% from their normal employers while furloughed at home owing to, eg, store and pub closures.

Sadly, those laid off are in the same boat as you. The payout isn’t welfare in the traditional sense, it’s assistance to maintain employment levels, and astonishingly generous, though that’s no help to UKC’s outdoor freelancers, unless of course they start booking outdoor courses or tree surgery with their spare time and full wallets. Unlikely I grant you.

Post edited at 09:16
Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

> The 80% isn’t technically 80% and it isn’t to laid-off workers. It’s to the employers of permanent employees who are being benched on full pay, ie earning 100% from their normal employers while furloughed at home owing to, eg, store and pub closures.

> Sadly, those laid off are in the same boat as you. The payout isn’t welfare in the traditional sense, it’s assistance to maintain employment levels, and astonishingly generous, though that’s no help to UKC’s outdoor freelancers, unless of course they start booking outdoor courses or tree surgery with their spare time and full wallets. Unlikely I grant you.

Thanks.

Because it's not relevant to me I'd not really listened beyond the 80% headline, though I thought those laid off might be eligible in a retrospective fashion. Do you know if that is true? Not, as you say, it changes my circumstances much. 

BnB 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> Thanks.

> Because it's not relevant to me I'd not really listened beyond the 80% headline, though I thought those laid off might be eligible in a retrospective fashion. Do you know if that is true? Not, as you say, it changes my circumstances much. 

No they are not eligible unless they are taken back on, as it’s in-employment support

Post edited at 09:23
Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

Understood. Thanks. 

kirsten 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

The changes for self-employed as I understand it are access to SSP and easier access to benefits (which appear to have been increased for the short-term). I presume as you say, for the latter, your partner’s earnings would be taken into account.  As BnB says, the 80% is for contracted staff who can’t work to stop their employers laying them off - other countries have done similar. 

If it’s tight,  could you work evenings or nights, or opposite shifts to your partner for the time being, ie the supermarkets are taking on ‘000s on short-term, presumably flexible,  contracts?  You’d also likely be eligible for mortgage/ loan payment breaks without penalising your credit record. 

We will be in the same position if my partner can’t work. For now he seems to be busier than ever but I figure my salary will rule out any kind of help if he gets sick or can’t continue working. We’ll be fine, but it’s going to be tough for a lot of people. 

wercat 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

having savings on the limit (and rapidly dwindling) it appears that we are not eligible for any help - outlook is pretty bleak - Hope yours is better

I had wished that at least there might be a council tax "holiday" paid by the govt as that helps everyone struggling

Post edited at 09:31
Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to kirsten:

> The changes for self-employed as I understand it are access to SSP and easier access to benefits (which appear to have been increased for the short-term). I presume as you say, for the latter, your partner’s earnings would be taken into account.  As BnB says, the 80% is for contracted staff who can’t work to stop their employers laying them off - other countries have done similar. 

> If it’s tight,  could you work evenings or nights, or opposite shifts to your partner for the time being, ie the supermarkets are taking on ‘000s on short-term, presumably flexible,  contracts?  You’d also likely be eligible for mortgage/ loan payment breaks without penalising your credit record. 

Appreciate the sentiment. It's being looked at but the 1000s of jobs headline, at the minute, isn't transpiring to on the ground reality. Locally to me their are four Tesco driver jobs but it's day time. Probably not allowed to take the kids for a ride! 

> We will be in the same position if my partner can’t work. For now he seems to be busier than ever but I figure my salary will rule out any kind of help if he gets sick or can’t continue working. We’ll be fine, but it’s going to be tough for a lot of people. 

Guess we'll have to find a new normal for a bit. 

Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

> having savings on the limit (and rapidly dwindling) it appears that we are not eligible for any help - outlook is pretty bleak - Hope yours is better

> I had wished that at least there might be a council tax "holiday" paid by the govt as that helps everyone struggling

Hopefully things might develop in terms of what help is available. 

neilh 21 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

Over the past couple of days I have been helping one of my critical engineering suppliers who was facing closure in about 2 months time as his work dried up.

The scheme is a godsend to him..

I also know 2 women who run nursies. 1 runs 3 in a deprived area of a Manchester. She was facing closure and losing 50 nursery assistants .

Again a god send to her,she is so relieved this morning.

BnB 21 Mar 2020
In reply to neilh:

> Over the past couple of days I have been helping one of my critical engineering suppliers who was facing closure in about 2 months time as his work dried up.

> The scheme is a godsend to him..

> I also know 2 women who run nursies. 1 runs 3 in a deprived area of a Manchester. She was facing closure and losing 50 nursery assistants .

> Again a god send to her,she is so relieved this morning.

The scale of the support is jaw-dropping, also in cost. I don’t think many will be in a position to understand just how huge but millions will be rescued. It’s astonishing.

Dax H 21 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

> The scale of the support is jaw-dropping, also in cost. I don’t think many will be in a position to understand just how huge but millions will be rescued. It’s astonishing.

My guess is someone has done the maths and worked out that it's cheaper to help people now they pay for the fallout. Without help many businesses (mine included if this lasts longer than 2 or 3 months) will go under, this will massively reduce the tax take whilst simultaneously massively increase the welfare bill and when it's all over the businesses that went under, many vital for the country won't just rise like a phoenix, a lot will stay gone. 

On top of that if you take the livelihood away from 50 or 60% of the population virus or not they will take to the streets in protest compounding the spread and the crime rate will go through the roof. 

Jamie Wakeham 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I'm still trying to get my head around what the plan is for the self employed.  I tutor in maths and physics for GCSE and A level, and this should be the busiest ten weeks of my year coming up - the ones where I work all the hours I can manage, and which cover for the fact that no-one really wants to learn any maths in July and August.

I've got an online system set up now, but obviously no-one wants to cram for exams that aren't happening!  My Y10 and Y12 students aren't terribly keen to be doing all that much right now anyway.  I'm down to less than 10% of my normal workload.

I have about £10k in savings right now - which was earmarked for a complete heating system revamp with a heat pump and thermal store - and is now being relabelled 'living expenses'.  But I bet that having such savings means I'll be less eligible for any help that's forthcoming.

God knows there are plenty that are going to feel this much worse than I will.  I'm busily persuading my Y11 clients that making a head start on A level maths and physics over Skype would be a great way to spend the next three months...

Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> I'm still trying to get my head around what the plan is for the self employed.  I tutor in maths and physics for GCSE and A level, and this should be the busiest ten weeks of my year coming up - the ones where I work all the hours I can manage, and which cover for the fact that no-one really wants to learn any maths in July and August.

> I've got an online system set up now, but obviously no-one wants to cram for exams that aren't happening!  My Y10 and Y12 students aren't terribly keen to be doing all that much right now anyway.  I'm down to less than 10% of my normal workload.

> I have about £10k in savings right now - which was earmarked for a complete heating system revamp with a heat pump and thermal store - and is now being relabelled 'living expenses'.  But I bet that having such savings means I'll be less eligible for any help that's forthcoming.

> God knows there are plenty that are going to feel this much worse than I will.  I'm busily persuading my Y11 clients that making a head start on A level maths and physics over Skype would be a great way to spend the next three months...

That sounds awful. I've given up on it this weekend, way too stressful. The wolf won't be at the door so to speak for us (a nice aside is that we've worked out that we can just manage on my wife's income - she soon disavowed me of that becoming a career option ☺️).

Savings seem to be a stumbling block plus her income. Absolutely we can manage but, and I hate myself for even saying this, it seems unfair. There doesn't appear to be the same condition around savings and partner income with the options being provided for PAYE workers.

Maybe something will transpire. Even Trump is giving out cash so stranger things can happen. 

Post edited at 16:26
Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Seems noises are being made. Not sure how it's operationally difficult? All returns will be in for years 18-19, percentage income of that?

Kicking the can of repayment to January won't help many when they've spent that money on living costs. They're not at present writing off the payment. 

Benefits seem to be excluded to many at quite a low threshold. 

BBC News - Coronavirus: Self-employed need financial help, unions warn

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51984275

Big Steve 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I keep hearing there will be an announcement next week for self employed help, possibly even Monday. I'm a self employed window cleaner, I have asthma so should really stop work but financially am not in a position to do so yet.

Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Big Steve:

> I keep hearing there will be an announcement next week for self employed help, possibly even Monday. I'm a self employed window cleaner, I have asthma so should really stop work but financially am not in a position to do so yet.

That's grim Steve. 

Stay safe. If I manage to get any useful info. I'll be sure to post it. 

Mr Lopez 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I've been digging through the info and though muddled it does look kind of bleak.

The whole SSP thing is apparently only being made available for self-employed people who are either sick with covid, or told to isolate otherwise through government advise (so that's people with symptoms or in high risk goups).

So it seems healthy/not-at-risk freelancers have to go through UC to claim jobseekers allowance, which if succesful is £74/week or thereabouts, and have to go through the whole signing on, applyig for jobs, go to interviews, etc and has lower thresholds for savings, partner's income and the like.

Tax deferrements are of no use for the large section of the population who have already paid a minimum of £2000 this year in excess through CIS. In fact, if self-assesesements are not filed we actually have less money than we'd have as the rebates would not be processed.

Lets see what the government comes back with, but i' not particularly optimistc

Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> I've been digging through the info and though muddled it does look kind of bleak.

> The whole SSP thing is apparently only being made available for self-employed people who are either sick with covid, or told to isolate otherwise through government advise (so that's people with symptoms or in high risk goups).

> So it seems healthy/not-at-risk freelancers have to go through UC to claim jobseekers allowance, which if succesful is £74/week or thereabouts, and have to go through the whole signing on, applyig for jobs, go to interviews, etc and has lower thresholds for savings, partner's income and the like.

> Tax deferrements are of no use for the large section of the population who have already paid a minimum of £2000 this year in excess through CIS. In fact, if self-assesesements are not filed we actually have less money than we'd have as the rebates would not be processed.

> Lets see what the government comes back with, but i' not particularly optimistc

I've been looking at the supermarket jobs etc that are being advertised. Beyond the headline, most are daytime shifts (I'm stuck with the kids) and none are guaranteeing much more than eight hours per week. Better than nothing but not the life raft I was hoping for. 

wercat 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

Looking at it coolly and rationally after a lifetime of being honest and now being in a very bad position I can see that the state must want me to turn to a life of crime in my 60s

Or just wants our family to just starve after a descent into destitution when all savings are gone.   How is it that a house does not count as a major financial resource when people renting with small savings are expected to dissipate them on rent and council tax as well as putting a bit of food on the table and then become homeless, presumably.

Post edited at 17:21
Mr Lopez 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Yeah, i was also having a look at the supermarket jobs, or delivery driver, etc.

As you that was all newspaper headline stuff and not real. The panic buying phase already stopped as everyoe is stocked up, so they don't need any more staff than they usually do. In fact supermarkets now are quieter than usual.

Nobody is looking for delivery drivers either as the number of vans available is what sets the limits, so that's no-go as well.

Guess it's a matter of laying back and wait and see how this pans out...

Mr Lopez 21 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

That's kind of where my thoughts are headed at times. It's a tough one.

I can't see the governmet ordering all rent is waived, and as much as i hate BTL hoarders it would seem unfair on lanlords even. Yet coming out of a few months of not work with any savings wiped out if you were lucky enough to have savings, the prospects of not just starting from scratch but having several months of rent in arrears sounds like yet another kick in the balls when your balls are already raw from months of kickings.

Not sure what the governments are planning, but at some point they will have to consider getting the economy working again or facing major looting and disturbance

Post edited at 17:32
neilh 21 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

You can get deferred mortgage repayments for 3 months for a start. Have you done that?

Post edited at 19:01
wercat 21 Mar 2020
In reply to neilh:

we're tenants

flatlandrich76 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I'm self employed as well and my accountant emailed all his customers these links this morning as places to get the latest information.

I've not looked at them to deeply myself yet but they may contain the information you're looking for so I thought I'd share them in case they help anyone else. 

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Post edited at 19:26
Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to flatlandrich76:

> I'm self employed as well and my accountant emailed all his customers these links this morning as places to get the latest information.

> I've not looked at them to deeply myself yet but they may contain the information you're looking for so I thought I'd share them in case they help anyone else. 

Seen them but useful none the less, thanks. 

neilh 21 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

Ask the landlord for 3 months. See what they say. 

Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to neilh:

> Ask the landlord for 3 months. See what they say. 

I know you mean well but these solutions, for many of us freelancers, it's just kicking the can down the road. The bills eventually need paying but if you're not getting an income... 

BnB 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I definitely think something needs to be done to support the self-employed sector, but it has been the government’s rightful priority to stem the flow of redundancies that threatened an instant collapse of the economy. This forced a focus on the employed segment of the workforce because is where measures would be most productive and also straightforward to deliver. Now that is mostly addressed and I hear many raising the case for the self-employed, I hope you can be accommodated swiftly.

Stuart (aka brt) 21 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

> I definitely think something needs to be done to support the self-employed sector, but it has been the government’s rightful priority to stem the flow of redundancies that threatened an instant collapse of the economy. This forced a focus on the employed segment of the workforce because is where measures would be most productive and also straightforward to deliver. Now that is mostly addressed and I hear many raising the case for the self-employed, I hope you can be accommodated swiftly.

Thanks. 

neilh 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

It’s what other businesses are doing and is worth trying. 

balmybaldwin 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

As horrible as it is seeing the money stop and the bills not, try your best not to do anything too hasty.  The way this government is "working" at the moment, I would expect further help to be forth coming in the coming days and weeks. God knows how it'll all work or be paid for in the end.

I can see social problems arising from the historically unemployed/unable to work people already on universal credit if workers and self employed are better funded for not working.

I can also foresee the government trying to incentivise people to work in the fields at some point in the summer as our usual itinerant workers have to stay home (even if they could come following brexit)

Mr Lopez 22 Mar 2020
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> I can also foresee the government trying to incentivise people to work in the fields at some point in the summer as our usual itinerant workers have to stay home (even if they could come following brexit)

I looked into doing that as an interim option till all this gets sorted out, as a call out for workers has already been put out. Then i found the t&c's hidden well past the application form.

Pay per kg. If your 'takings' don't make the National Minimum Wage you are fired. Take home pay after deductions is between £240 and £300 a week depending how hard you work... Yes please!

2
neilh 22 Mar 2020
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Tax rises.

those on existing uc will be able to be easily addressed as they are in a system already which pays them. it’s a good point, but easier to address. 

neilh 22 Mar 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

Well done for looking at this. Interesting t and c’s but understandable. I suppose if you already work in that sector probably well known. 

Stuart (aka brt) 22 Mar 2020
In reply to neilh:

> Well done for looking at this. Interesting t and c’s but understandable. I suppose if you already work in that sector probably well known. 

I think if you'd said 'that field of work' it would have been funnier! 

neilh 22 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Have an official like 

Jamie Wakeham 22 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Now that is mostly addressed and I hear many raising the case for the self-employed, I hope you can be accommodated swiftly.

You're absolutely right, of course.  Sorting things for the employed sector needed to come first, and with any luck something sensible for the self employed sector will be coming out in the next few days.

The deferment of the June tax bill, I guess, was just something that was very easy to implement quickly. Not the most useful of measures - as Stuart days, it's just kicked the can down the road a bit - but I suppose for someone who's struggling with reduced income right now, not being to put money aside for it for the next couple of months might be helpful.

Wait and see, I guess.  I'm currently much more worried about people like my osteopath, my wife's hairdresser, and so on - they really are looking at no income at all.

BnB 22 Mar 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Nothing concrete as yet, but clearly under consideration

https://giftarticle.ft.com/giftarticle/actions/redeem/b7c45fe1-709a-41d2-bcaa-16b1ad1599f3

Stuart (aka brt) 22 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

Pay-walled.

Edit: Googled the headline. Thanks. 

Post edited at 12:31
BnB 22 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> Pay-walled. 

Shouldn't be. It's a gift link. But there's a limit to the number of views.

The gist is: they're aware of the need and pondering how to proceed given the inability to deliver the aid through the tax system or verify what are, by their nature, variable earnings.

It is possible that those who have not been in the habit of declaring their income may this year regret that behaviour, though there's hopefully a minimum level of support for everyone.

Stuart (aka brt) 22 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

Thanks. 

1
teh_mark 22 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

> ...verify what are, by their nature, variable earnings.

That's simple, surely? You go by their last tax return, or perhaps take the mean of their previous x years' tax returns. It's no different to verifying the earnings of someone on payroll - which can be done by looking at company payroll submissions.

I have conflicting thoughts on the situation for self-employed people (which includes myself). I learnt the hard way a few years ago that you don't need much of a disaster to befall you to significantly upset your income (broken leg in my case), and it's incumbent on an business to ensure they have reserves to continue trading in the bad times. The only difference here is that it isn't one person falling off a ladder, breaking their back and learning that lesson the hard way - it's an entire country. But the level of instant moaning from my cohort is incredible. Few people seem to have twigged that we're paid substantially more than an employed person in the same role precisely because we carry the financial risk. It seems most freelancers don't see themselves as a business, but rather as someone who turns up to work for different people every day.

It'd be wrong to offer comprehensive support to those who are employed and virtually ignore the self-employed, as currently seems to be the case, but I can't get on board with the self-entitled attitude either knowing the average income of those who do the same work as me.

Stuart (aka brt) 22 Mar 2020
In reply to teh_mark:

Appreciate what you're saying, though I'm personally struggling (literally and metaphorically) to agree with it. Maybe having a pop at moaning people should be left for another day. Your moaning might be their desperation. 

BnB 22 Mar 2020
In reply to teh_mark:

> That's simple, surely? You go by their last tax return, or perhaps take the mean of their previous x years' tax returns. It's no different to verifying the earnings of someone on payroll - which can be done by looking at company payroll submissions.

Not really comparable. If you run a PSC your income could be calculated to be the minimum required to trigger NI contributions and state pension. The rest would come in lumpy dividend payments timed to manage tax payments and therefore not always representative of annual income. Meanwhile anyone self-employed and running a cash business may have much smaller tax records than the amount they suddenly claim they are accustomed to, and I have little sympathy there.

> I have conflicting thoughts on the situation for self-employed people (which includes myself). I learnt the hard way a few years ago that you don't need much of a disaster to befall you to significantly upset your income (broken leg in my case), and it's incumbent on an business to ensure they have reserves to continue trading in the bad times. The only difference here is that it isn't one person falling off a ladder, breaking their back and learning that lesson the hard way - it's an entire country. But the level of instant moaning from my cohort is incredible. Few people seem to have twigged that we're paid substantially more than an employed person in the same role precisely because we carry the financial risk. It seems most freelancers don't see themselves as a business, but rather as someone who turns up to work for different people every day.

This is a fair point but I wouldn’t push it too far. 

Dax H 22 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

> It is possible that those who have not been in the habit of declaring their income may this year regret that behaviour, though there's hopefully a minimum level of support for everyone.

This probably won't be popular but once this is over I would like to see a financial investigation on any self employed who try claim money yet according to their tax returns were not earning enough to live on in the first place. If people don't pay their share then there is nothing to pay out. 

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a legal help column where a guy was asking the solicitor about just this thing, he was knocked off his bike and looking for a loss of earnings claim for the year, his legal earnings were only 20k a year, he was trying to claim 60k, his argument being if he only claimed what he was declaring to that tax man he would be 40k down and that wouldn't be fair. Dick head even suggested showing the judge his bank statements to prove he typically earned 60k per year. 

teh_mark 22 Mar 2020
In reply to BnB:

I don't see the problem with using declared income. I trade as a limited company and pay myself as you describe: NI threshold in salary, and the rest as dividends from company profit. It's still all declared on my tax return though. For sole traders it's even more simple. the bottom line is that HMRC know what everyone's income is unless they haven't been declaring it.

If people haven't been accounting for and declaring their income correctly then I have no sympathy. If you rob the tax man habitually, why should you expect the tax man to bail you out when the shit hits the fan?

Stuart (aka brt) 24 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/martin-lewis-advice-self-employed-17970052

Something in the pipeline apparently (but they said that last Friday about yesterday). 

Siward 25 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

The loophole will be, I'm forecasting, those self employed who are earning drastically less due to Corona, as opposed to nothing. On what is currently in the bill, they will lose out completely. 

Stuart (aka brt) 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

BBC News - Coronavirus: Rishi Sunak to unveil financial aid for self-employed
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52044542


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