Empowering the Freelance Economy

October: a month of many changes for freelancers

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October could mark several changes that will impact freelancer household income.

Goodbye SEISS grants

The self-employed income support scheme (SEISS grants), which paid up to £7,500 for some freelance workers affected by Covid will come to an end in October.

You can now no longer apply for Covid support if you are self-employed.

While the fifth and final SEISS grant covered the period from May 2021 to September 2021, payments are still being processed for those that met the deadline and the money equates to 80% of three months’ average takings.

Electricity and heating bills to rise

As of the 1st of October, gas and electricity prices will rise for 15million households, albeit within the latest energy price cap set by regulator Ofgem.

Freelancers on default tariffs are set to pay £139 more and prepayment customers pay £153 from the autumn.

This situation could mean now is the time to look for a better deal before you crank up the heating.

Energy price comparison sites can give you an idea as to whether you are paying too much for your energy use, especially if you work from home. Which? Switch is an independent comparison service and automatically displays deals that it can’t switch you to directly – so you know you’ll see the best deals and where to get them from.

Automatic switching services do more of the legwork for you than price comparison websites, according to Which?

“They continuously compare and, with your permission, switch you to deals they calculate to be the best (based on the information you provide) to keep you on a good rate. Well-known names include Flipper, Look After My Bills, Switchcraft, Switchd and Weflip, though more are launching all the time. If you want a better energy deal with minimal effort, they could be worth a try. But be aware that you may not get the very cheapest deal on the market,” says Which?

Those freelancers that live in rural locations may only have the choice to be green when it comes to their electricity and will have to shop around for oil suppliers.

FuelTool and BoilerJuice are two options.

Contactless purchasing goes to £100 but you can keep it lower

The contactless payment limit in the UK will rise to £100 as of October 15.

While contactless payments have become crucial during the pandemic and social distancing, some freelancers are concerned if someone stole their card that they could get away with a lot of purchases in a matter of minutes with the new higher limit.

That is why it is good to know that you can contact your bank from October 15 to request a contactless limit you are comfortable with.

There have been reports that unauthorised or mistaken contactless payments have been made on public transport when two cards are in close proximity to a card reader. People are getting lobbed with full fare charges, according to a Which? report. That is why it is wise to make sure no one has their card near your reader and vice versa when using a contactless payment reader on public transport.

Eviction powers for landlords back to normal

In June of this year, eviction notice periods were extended to six months, but freelancers who rent their homes or business premises should know that as of 1 October landlords can serve you a two-month notice under Section 21 and two weeks for Section 8.

Your landlord must give you a legal notice and that notice must meet certain conditions to count as a legal notice.

For example, it must:

  • give enough notice
  • be the right notice for your tenancy type

Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. Your landlord could give you a section 21 notice or a section 8 notice with this type of tenancy.

You’re entitled to a legal notice in writing even if you don’t have a written tenancy agreement.

Shelter’s tenancy checker can help you find out which tenancy you have.

This table shows the minimum notice periods for section 21 notices during the pandemic.

Date you were given noticeMinimum notice period
On or after 1 October 20212 months
Between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 20214 months
Between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 20216 months
Source: Shelter

Stamp duty is back in full

The stamp duty holiday extension in England and Northern Ireland ended on September 30.

However, the full tax break is being reinstated today.

Stamp duty kicks in on properties valued at £125,000 or more. Anything between £125,000 and £250,000 is subject to 2% tax, followed by 9% up to £925,000 and 10% up to £1.5million.

If you’re a first-time buyer, though, you won’t have to pay stamp duty on homes worth up to £300,000. Any surplus between £300,000 and £500,000 is taxed at 5%.

Make Tax Digital deadline delayed

The ‘Making Tax Digital’ for Income Tax programme will be delayed from 6 April 2023 until 6 April 2024. But the basis period proposals of the programme, additional costs and not-fit-for-purpose software could make things very unattractive to international service firms and millions of self-employed. Read our report below.

Making Tax Digital: “not fit” for Freelancers – Freelance Informer

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