Articles - 31st July 2019

HMRC glitch, afraid of getting ill, and other stories

Words by Emily & Jack

‘Fiasco’: HMRC glitch means self-employed could face an unexpectedly large tax bill in January

There has been a “glitch” in HMRC’S tax return system. Instead of sending tax returns twice a year – one in January and one in July – in order to spread out payment, many of the July returns were not sent out to self-employed individuals and therefore their taxes will roll over to January.

The deadline for payments on account is tomorrow but HMRC said no one would be charged interest for paying late because of its error. However, those who cannot afford to pay in January would open themselves up to interest charges.

An HMRC spokesman said: “We are aware of an issue with payment reminders for a small number of customers.

“Anyone who is affected can contact us and we’ll put it right. Nobody will be charged additional interest due to this problem, as long as they pay the full amount due by the 31 January 2020.”

This comes on the heels of The Times calling for a simpler HMRC for gig economy workers. 


Almost half of the self-employed fear falling ill

Research by the self-employment insurance provider Qdos, in collaboration with Research in Insurance, has shown that falling ill and being unable to work, difficulties maintaining healthy cash-flow and lack of financial security are among some of the biggest challenges facing self-employed individuals.

The study, which explored 400 self-employed workers’ attitudes towards independent working, revealed that many key challenges centre around time management, with 46% fearing falling ill and being unable to work, 24% challenged by long working hours and 11% struggling with the pressure that being self-employed has on family life.

The study also found that 63% of self-employed individuals face financial challenges, with 29% struggling with a lack of financial security, 23% facing difficulty with late payments from clients and 21% worrying about finding work. 

Meanwhile, 28% also said that they find it difficult to obtain advice, with the largest number of survey respondents stating that getting hold of the right tax help is very difficult. 

Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, commented on the findings: “Despite the challenges that the self-employed face, this way of working continues to grow overall in the UK and there are nearly 5m people running their own business in some capacity. This figure is a testament to the flexibility and control that independent working offers, along with the resilience of the self-employed workforce.”


Self-Employed workers have benefited from the minimum wage

The Resolution Foundation found that self-employed people have benefited from the minimum wage. Even though self-employed workers are not entitled to be paid the legal minimum, findings show that there has been an increase in the wages of self-employed workers because of the minimum wage.


Half of the self-employed workforce now over 50

There are now 2.27 million over 50’s who are self-employed – up from 1.45 million 10 years ago, an increase of 57 per cent in a decade. The survey looked at data from the Office of National Statistics to highlight self-employment trends amongst the different demographic groups in the UK.

The analysis also shows that:

  1. In 2019, nearly 1 in 5 (19 per cent) of the entire self-employed workforce is over 60.
  2. The number of over 60s who are self-employed increased from 579,000 in 2009 to 949,000 in 2019 – an increase of 64 per cent.
  3. The total number of self-employed individuals has increased from 3.85 million to 4.92 million in the last 10 years. Of this 1.1 million increase, 820,000 is amongst those over 50 – nearly 4 in 5 of them or 77 per cent.


Mothers face losing £260,000 by returning to work part-time in order to avoid paying childcare 

Research from Telegraph Money has found that New Mothers who want to return to work part-time in order to avoid paying childcare are losing earnings of around £260,000 in doing so.

The Government is looking to take steps to better support Mothers who face huge childcare costs when they have to juggle working and looking after their children.  

Most women who have children only return to full-time employment when their youngest child is 11 years old, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

Even though the price of childcare for two children aged from one to 11 costs just under £100,000, the overall costs are far greater when skipping paying childcare and taking a lower paid job part-time. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of difference.


The Gig Economy Screws Over Everyone But the Bosses

Vice reported this week that nearly 60 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds are part of the gig economy, according to a Bank of Canada report. A bunch of side hustles, contract work, and freelancing were part of previous generations’ entry into the workforce. But labour experts say this trend is growing and is less likely to be a stepping stone to stable, full-time employment at one company—rather, it’s going to be the norm throughout a person’s career. And this trend hurts everyone, other than the people doing the hiring.

Thanks to technology and a pool of cheaper, on-demand workers available for specific projects as they arise, employers haven’t felt the need to raise wages for gig workers or their staff alike.

Based on estimates, all the gig work across Canada is the equivalent of 700,000 full-time, salaried jobs, or 3.5 per cent of the total labour force. That’s a lot of “formal” positions that aren’t being filled and according to the Bank of Canada, that’s contributing to lower wages across the board.

The tricky thing is that the term “gig worker” and the informal economy aren’t exactly defined. It’s an overly broad term and there has to be a better way to group them into categories that make it clear who is most vulnerable. After all, a tech worker going from one lucrative contract to another isn’t in the same situation as someone who is precariously employed.


Uber drivers not exempt from paying the congestion charge in London 

Uber drivers fought and lost in a legal battle where they asked to be exempt from paying congestion charges, which rack up to £200 per month.

The levy was imposed in April by Sadiq Khan, and drivers argue that the policy is racist as it disproportionately affects Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers as it only affects minicab drivers and not traditional London black taxi cabs. 

The High Court disagreed with this statement, supporting Khan in his aim to reduce the number of cars on the road in the centre of London and reduce air pollution.

According to the Independent Workers of Great Britain Union (IWGB) 94% of minicab drivers are from an ethnic minority background, whilst 88% of London black cab drivers are white. 

Yaseen Aslam, secretary of the united private hire drivers branch of IWGB, said: “Large rideshare firms will pick up a strategic advantage while precarious workers are saddled with the environmental costs which should rightly be borne by corporations and their consumer.”

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