"Treasury needs to support self-employed", says Select Committee Chair

9 July 2020, 14:38 | Updated: 9 July 2020, 14:48

"Treasury need to support self-employed", says the Select Committee Chair

By Fiona Jones

The Treasury Select Committee Chair Mel Stride tells LBC that the Treasury needs to "have a little more political will" and help freelancers and business owners who are desperate for support.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a list of measures to get businesses and workers back on track after the coronavirus lockdown - however many freelancers and small business owners have told LBC how they are not eligible for any of the government's financial support schemes.

Treasury Select Committee Chair Mel Stride explained how freelancers have been left behind: "The problem has arisen that for those who have not been work at the time the government said you needed to be in order to evidence your claim, you're not able to make your claim.

"Our view is HMRC should be able to look back over a period, understand that people have been working and paying their taxes, therefore they should be included in the support scheme."

Small business owners or people who simply started work at the wrong time have also fallen through the cracks.

Mel Stride told Shelagh that the Treasury and Chancellor need a bit more "political will" to help self-employed
Mel Stride told Shelagh that the Treasury and Chancellor need a bit more "political will" to help self-employed. Picture: LBC/PA

Shelagh said the government are holding back due to a "fear of fraud" amongst worries that small business owners could forge paperwork about their three year earning average. She asked if this was legitimate.

Mr Stride replied that there are ways to combat this. For freelancers a fear of fraud is irrelevant as their self-assessments mean their relevant tax is clear and deducted; for those people working for themselves and taking dividends, around 700,000 people, if they were to make a claim which was proven erroneous or inaccurate then there could be penalties.

"My view would be that HMRC and Treasury really need to have a little more political will to make sure that these things can be delivered because a lot of people are missing out," he said.

The Chair told Shelagh the Treasury Select Committee had conducted an inquiry and received 16,000 responses from people "caught in gaps", they issued an interim report which set out the categories of people they think should be given support but are not currently, and also set out suggestions for how the problems should be tackled.

Mr Stride told Shelagh that the committee is continually lobbying the Chancellor for his support: "The problem is of course that the clock keeps ticking and these people are without the support that both they deserve and they really need."

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