There are times when I really wonder which planet our Government actually resides on. Put it this way – it is not my version of Planet Earth.
You might be thinking this is going to be a rant about the never-ending “Brexit” arguments. However, you would be completely wrong.
Just before I had to fight the extremely tempting desire to put a brick through my Dad's TV yesterday evening (I was cooking our usual midweek meal at the time) I found my intelligence being insulted by some Government Oik on the subject of “Self-employment”.
According to the aforementioned Oik people apparently opt for Self-employment soley for Tax reasons (as in they want to pay less Tax).
Well, I suppose the Oik has kind of got a point – even if he got it the wrong way around. Someone does want to pay less Tax as a result of recruiting Self-employed people. The trouble is – it is not the prospective “Self-employed” employees who want to skew the playing field – it is the companies who are doing the employing.
Leave the headline grabbing companies (Uber, Deliveroo, etc) out of it for a minute. I know of companies who have advertised full-time Administration jobs with the information that the candidate will be “Self-employed”. This means the company employing the candidate doesn't have to give them the same rights as workers who are directly employed by the company. It also means the company doesn't have to worry about a high Tax bill as a result of dodging the PAYE and NI (National Insurance) contributions they would otherwise have to pay as a result of properly employing the candidate.
There are quite a few reasons for people deciding to go down the “Self-employed” route – none of which include lowering a Tax bill.
You might want to go Self-employed because you want to have more freedom regarding where and when you work – if you have children for example.
Your skillset may not be used to its full potential by a “Mainstream” employer. This could be as a result of the limitations placed upon you as a result of Company Rules, etc.
Your Mental and/or Physical Health could be put at risk if you stay within “Mainstream” employment. This is particularly true if you have any kind of pre-existing Health problem or Disability. It is also particularly true if you become a victim of a bullying culture at work. (Trust me – a combination of those two would finish anybody off. It nearly finished me off.)
We all know the damage lack of sleep, etc, can do to our general wellbeing.
The irony is that (in my case in particular) sometimes the idea of going Self-employed can actually be kicked off by the idea of you being in charge of when you get paid. As someone who went through periods of not being paid for at least two months at a time in my last “Mainstream” job – I could cope better with the idea of not having to deal with an employer acting as a Middleman and pushing me towards the bottom of the “foodchain” as far as being paid is concerned. (Yes – I am aware that when starting out as Self-employed you don't have the luxury of a regular income anyway. However, at least you get a chance to work towards it.)
Another reason for someone becoming Self-employed might be because there is no way on Planet Earth that they can get a job any other way. They may have a Criminal Record, etc.
If you ask me – a fairer way to deal with the problems in our Economy would be to pay everybody a Basic Income and scrap the idea of Tax and National Insurance completely.
Instead of paying Taxes and not having a say in how they are used – we could simply pay out the full price for every single Public Service we use directly from any money we actually earn. The only mandatory thing we would all have to pay into would be Social Security (which would be deducted at source). If you decided to have children you would be responsible for paying the full costs of their education. You would have to pay the full price upfront every time you used the Emergency Services or the NHS.
I wonder exactly how many Government policies would get off the ground if the general public could decide for themselves whether or not to pay for them. I get a strange feeling that being forced to pay directly for things like Trident might change a few people's minds about them.
We keep being told that the lack of money in things like Education, the Health Service, the Emergency services, etc, is driving down standards. We also keep being told there is not enough money to fund these things properly – either at a Local Authority level or a National level. As for asking the very highly paid people like Footballers, Members of Parliament, etc, to surrender any earnings above two times the national average wage in order to pay for the proper funding of the above??? Forget it. Not every rich person is nearly as generous as George Michael was.
If we cannot fix the Employment situation so that everybody can afford to pay their fair share of Tax and National Insurance contributions – as well as giving people to vote with their hard-earned spending power about what exactly the money collected will be best spent on – we will either need to scrap Tax completely and pay for everything ourselves or we will need to turn the extremely (to the point of obscenely) wealthy on their heads and shake them until their money falls out of their pockets. We could also make them surrender all property they own apart from the home they actually live in. This would solve the Homelessness crisis at a stroke.
So – next time you think that the Self-employed are the best targets for Tax and National Insurance hikes – remember – they are the ones who are putting their lives into the Economy. The ones we should be targetting are the Millionaires, upwards.