Articles - 21st August 2019

Protect your Instagram! And other freelance news

HMRC waives fines as 120,000 self-employed workers miss digital tax deadline 

Around 120,000 self-employed people have failed to meet the first deadline for filing their tax returns using specialist software. About 490,000 should have completed their first return by August 7 but 120,000 have yet to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The taxman said that in normal circumstances those who had failed to comply would have received a fine of at least £100. However, it is choosing not to enforce these penalties during the first year.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called on HMRC to extend this policy for a further year, allowing businesses to fully prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

HMRC said its own research suggested the average cost for implementing Making Tax Digital costs was £109, plus £31 each year afterwards.


‘My Instagram got hacked and I lost my business’

Twenty-three-year-old Bree Kotomah almost gave up on a burgeoning career in fashion design when hackers compromised her business’s Instagram account in November 2018.

At least half of micro-businesses – companies with fewer than nine employees – in the UK are victims of cyber-attacks every year, compared to just a third of other companies, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told the BBC: “We use sophisticated measures to stop hackers before they gain access to accounts and we are continuously working to improve our recovery process.

“In the few instances hacking occurs, people can recover accounts through the app and website and we notify people if we see any unauthorised changes to an account.”


Confidence in jobs market at lowest level since 2015, research suggests

Around one in four workers do not feel confident about their job security in the next six months, according to new research.

The confidence of workers and job seekers in the UK labour market is at its lowest level since 2015, recruitment agency said on Friday.

The research also found that more than a third of those in work feel less confident about their job due to the current political climate.

The research by the company, which surveyed 7,000 people, relates to the first quarter of 2019.

The rise of the gig economy has led to a “dramatic increase” in the amount of insecure work, according to the data.

Those with the highest levels of education were found to be the most likely to feel confident about their employment prospect over the next five years, the study found.


Economic insecurity is rising – especially for gig workers

A survey by the society found that economic insecurity is widespread; 73 per cent of workers fear inflation will outstrip pay, and 59 per cent would struggle to pay an unexpected bill of £500. 

More than a third (36 per cent) would find it difficult to pay a surprise bill of £100 – with this figure rising to 44 per cent for those on zero-hour contracts.

The RSA also found that 30 per cent of workers don’t feel like they earn enough to maintain a decent standard of living (up from 26 per cent in 2017), while 24 per cent of workers sometimes have trouble meeting their basic living costs because of income volatility (up from 19 per cent in 2017).

Almost half (49 per cent) of workers fear the effect of Brexit on living standards, 26 per cent are concerned about losing their job to automation, while 35 per cent fear that the rising cost of housing may force them to relocate.

The report calls for a new “21st century safety net”, with a greater role for unions, digital start-ups and civil society in helping with retraining and income support.

Among all workers, retraining is the option most workers think would help them the most, backed by 27 per cent. But 34 per cent of those in non-typical work feel they would benefit most from a contract with guaranteed hours.

The report examined how other countries deal with economic insecurity. Singapore has introduced “personal learning accounts” with budgets for training for every worker to help adapt to tomorrow’s jobs. Meanwhile in Sweden, the state encourages employers to contribute to funds to help workers transition during periods of redundancy.


Deliveroo beefs up lobbying muscle amid clampdown on digital marketplaces

Takeaway app Deliveroo is arming itself for a campaign against Britain’s forthcoming digital services tax and curbs on the so-called “gig economy” by investing in new lobbying weaponry.

 As a legislative backlash against tech giants looms, Deliveroo has hired a number of political specialists, such as taking on Philip Hammond’s former speechwriter as its director of policy. The company also appointed the Treasury’s ex-senior policy adviser.

Now it has poached Giles Derrington from lobby group techUK as the head of its public affairs operations across the UK and Ireland.

The digital services tax is also due to be imposed, with Deliveroo one of the British businesses considered to be most at risk of the planned levy in the long term. The company currently loses money and so is exempt.

Under the latest Treasury plans, the 2pc tax will apply to the fees delivery companies charge. To be liable to pay the tax, companies must have total revenues of more than £500m and make profits. 

Deliveroo has been improving its margins over recent years, and will seek to map out a path to profitability before an expected initial public offering. It was among the companies that responded to the Treasury’s consultation about the tax, which concluded last month.



Almost Half Of Working Women Struggle To Pay Unexpected £100 Bill, Says New Report

 Almost half of women in work would struggle to pay an unexpected bill of £100 compared to 30% of working men, a new survey has revealed. 

The report, which investigates the role of women in the economy and society, also found 38% of female workers felt their job didn’t pay enough to offer a decent standard of living. The same figure for male workers was just 24%. 

The research, by the Royal Society for the Arts and the Women’s Budget Group, also found 54% of women felt unable to save for retirement (37% for men). 

The potential dangers of new technologies exacerbating existing gender divide in the workplace are also highlighted as part of the report, with the authors arguing women were suffering from in-built bias in artificial intelligence systems. 

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