Articles - 4th September 2019

The Self-Employed Owe £1.6b in Tax to HMRC, and other stories

Words by Emily & Jack

Self-employed owe £1.6bn in late tax

The taxman is owed £1.6bn from self-assessment taxpayers who are late making payments so far in the 2017/18 tax year.

A representative of HMRC said the number of self-assessment taxpayers had risen in recent years and this may account for the increase in late payments.

The deadline to pay was Jan 31, 2019, but HMRC has not received all of the tax returns for the relevant tax year, so the number is expected to rise and could surpass the £1.83bn that was paid late in the previous tax year. 


Gender pensions gap impacted by self-employment

The influx of women entering self-employment is making it difficult to close the gender pensions gap

An article from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published September 2, showed women in self-employment increased by almost 150 per cent between 1984 and 2018 and has been growing rapidly since 2008.

However, the percentage of self-employed people paying into a pension has halved in a decade from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.

It also found that self-employment among women has grown faster than among men since 1984.

But this is bad news for pensions as self-employed people are less likely to pay into a pension than their employed counterparts.


Mortgages, pensions and other savings products are not designed for self-employed workers – here’s what needs to change

Although the self-employed workforce is growing, financial services still haven’t adapted to the way the world of work is changing. Pensions and Mortgages are not built for freelancers in mind and this is causing a lot of problems for the almost 5 million workers in the UK who are self-employed.

Without 2 years’ worth of accounts and self-assessment tax returns, a mortgage is a no go. And without auto-enrolment to a pension system, many self-employed find the provisions left when they reach retirement are not enough to live on.

Richard Rowntree, the Director of mortgages at Bank of Ireland UK, talks about the unsteady income of freelancers causing them not to be eligible for loans:

“These people often have perfect credit records but are restricted. The world of work has changed, yet many banks haven’t.”

Learn more about what needs to change in the financial services to include the self-employed here. 


UK employees more likely to freelance than Europeans

Despite Brexit and increased political uncertainty, numerous reports highlight that the British economy is thriving with UK wages rising at their fastest rate for a decade and employment at its highest since the 1970s. Many of the UK’s key industries continue to experience fast growth, particularly the tech sector which has reportedly seen a surge in foreign investment. ADP’s research suggests that employee confidence reflects such strength, with many workers feeling secure enough to opt for an independent professional life.

ADP’s annual Workforce View in the Europe 2019 report has revealed an 11 percentage point drop in the number of workers actively considering the independent lifestyle since 2017 – down to just 15% this year. While the study has shown that interest in freelancing and self-employment continues amongst UK workers with 21% actively considering it, this figure is only a one percentage point change from 2017.

The last few years had previously seen employees shun ‘jobs for life’ and the 9-to-5 grind, as freelancing, self-employment and ‘portfolio careers’ came to the fore. However, it appears the popularity of these alternative ways of working could be starting to decrease in Europe as the tide turns back towards more traditional career paths, while in contrast, UK employees continue to explore more flexible ways of working.


Strike 2.0: how gig economy workers are using tech to fight back

Up to 10 million people in the UK are in precarious work, juggling low paid jobs as cleaners, Deliveroo riders and Uber drivers. But a movement is underway to rewire the economy from within.

For many tens of thousands of workers in Britain’s gig economy, elements of that dystopia are already mundane. The work of most Deliveroo riders and Uber drivers, for example, is governed almost entirely by the companies’ smartphone apps; their only physical contact with the firms comes when they initially sign up, and even then it is likely to involve nothing more than a meeting with another precarious worker brought in to staff the recruitment centres. 

So how do the Gig Economy workers fight back? Read on to find out. 


One in five employers failing to train their contingent workers

Statistics show that one in five UK employers aren’t offering their non-permanent workers training opportunities, meaning that 20% of UK businesses don’t properly support contractors when it comes to helping their career development. 

Nevertheless, the survey also found that 84% of employers rely on freelance workers or short-term contract workers for providing services for their business and 35% believe that they’ll rely even more on non-permanent workers in the future.

Learn more about the City & Guilds survey findings here.


Uber fights Californian bill to curb gig economy

 A fight over the “gig economy” is unfolding in California after state senators agreed to vote on a bill that would force companies to treat contractors as employees.

The bill, which would severely limit the conditions under which companies can classify workers as contractors and deny them benefits, would explode the business models of a swath of companies that have arisen in the past decade, led by Uber.

California is not only the company’s home market but often sets the tone for federal and state laws. Uber and its gig economy rivals, which pay contractors on a per-job basis, are heavily loss-making. Forcing them to offer paid sick leave, holidays and guaranteed wages would hit their already stressed business models. Uber last month reported a $5.2bn loss for the three months to June. 

Political winds appear to be blowing against the industry. Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg joined a rally of workers at Uber’s San Francisco HQ last week. Fellow Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren, said last month: “All Democrats need to stand up and say, without hedging, that we support [California’s bill] and back full employee status for gig workers.”

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