Empowering the Freelance Economy

Autumn Budget: Will Rishi come through for Freelancers?

Rishi Sunak in a photo posted on his Facebook page back in November 2020.
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Freelancers and small business owners around the UK share what they’d like to see Rishi Sunak announce in the Autumn Budget.

The Autumn Budget wishlist of freelancers and small business owners includes a range of policy changes from VAT cuts and the abolition of business rates to pensions simplification and scrapping higher national insurance taxes for the self-employed. Katherine Steiner-Dicks is hoping the Chancellor has an epiphany and becomes the world’s political Poster Boy for freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Before we tackle the taxing topics, let’s get to the heart of all our fears: a Christmas turkey shortage.

Tom Bowers, Founder of Hypothesis Media, a consultancy specialising in broadcast interactive and audience engagement, has a solution in mind:

“I would love to see an additional, highly punitive tax for anyone that contributes to the panic buying of Christmas turkeys.”

Tom Bowers, Founder of Hypothesis Media

Now that we have got that sorted, let’s move on to…

VAT & Pensions

Daniel Wiltshire

Daniel Wiltshire, of Wiltshire Wealth believes VAT has its share of social injustices.

“I’d like to see a cut to VAT, particularly on energy bills this winter,” he said. “VAT is a regressive tax that takes no account of income and therefore hits the poorest hardest.”

Adam Walkom of Permanent Wealth Partners would love to see simplification of pensions.

“It may sound boring but [simplification] will impact 99% of all workers. The lifetime allowance has become a huge disincentive that penalises pension savers, so potentially removing this while introducing a flat rate of tax relief for pension contributions would be a powerful statement from the Treasury,” said Walkom.

Others are hoping for the best, but not holding their breath when it comes to seeing any increases in the Pensions Lifetime Allowance.

“I would like, but certainly do not expect, to see increases in the Pensions Lifetime Allowance and Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Band,” said Joshua Gerstler, a Chartered Financial Planner and owner of The Orchard Practice.

“Hard-working families who try and take care of themselves and not rely on the Government are often punished for doing so and I would like to see that change,” he said.

National insurance hikes: we’re not having it!

“Budgets are always tricky affairs,” said mortgage advisory owner Lewis Shaw, “however that’s mainly because politicians need to remain elected rather than do what’s in people’s best interests.”

If Shaw could influence Rishi in any way, he’d ask for three things to be included in this Budget:

  • Firstly, scrap the national insurance hike and replace it by bringing capital gains tax in line with income tax rates.
  • Secondly, replace council tax and stamp duty land tax with a single land value tax collected centrally and then distributed equally according to the needs of local authorities and the number of constituents.
  • Finally, replace the minimum wage with the real living wage and allow it to be set by the living wage foundation, separate from governmental interference to prevent it being a political football.

Top of My Wish List: Rishi has an epiphany

I am taking editorial liberties here, perhaps even spreading false hope, but wouldn’t it be brilliant if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, had an epiphany after a long night penning the Autumn Budget?

Picture it. Before the ink dries, he tears up the chapter in his policy book that has penalised limited company directors (not unlike his Mum who used to run a chemist shop) and those highly skilled contractors (like the ones that helped build his father-in-law’s billion-dollar IT business, Infosys).

In an ideal world, Rishi’s first announcement to dominate the freelance economy wish list would be to abolish IR35, making blanket bans on PSC contractors a thing of the past. Higher NI taxes for the self-employed, if he decides to keep those, would have to be justified or compensated with some form of benefit, surely?

As a way to boost productivity, higher yet graded employment tax credits would be provided for every additional employee that a small business or solopreneur hired on a permanent full-time, part-time or freelance basis. This would keep people gainfully employed and boost revenues for freelancers looking to grow their client base and for HMRC’s coffers.

He would, begrudgingly, but knowing it is good for his media image, give a public apology for excluding millions of self-employed taxpayers, notably limited company directors, from pandemic support.

Now, scrapping the higher dividend tax on business owners may not go down well with the pencil pushers over at the Treasury, so Rishi could instead suggest a serious reduction and just a 1% to 2%% rise, not a leap from 19% to 25% as suggested.

He will also put in a clause about Making Tax Digital software providers cap prices so people don’t go into debt for simply filing their taxes. Accountants should also be monitored not to overcharge for adopting spreadsheets and other accounting software into MTD submissions to HMRC.

The Autumn Budget, once dreaded by many, becomes a beacon of hope, with Rishi coined the “Entrepreneur’s Chancellor” thanks to a glossy Vanity Fair cover story. Freelance photographer Annie Liebovitz would (of course!) be called in for the shoot, requesting Rishi don one of his working hard hoodies. He could then look into the camera with the countenance of a man with a clear conscience.

Stranger things have happened, right?

1 Comment
  1. Carol Cruickshank says

    Mr Sunak needs to take skilled electricians outside IR35 or none of them will vote Conservative in the next election.

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