Rigger: "Hard to understand" why they can't pay the self-employed
Monday, 23 March 2020
UK - Glyn Owen, a self-employed rigger at the ACC Liverpool, expressed his bewilderment at why the UK government has not offered comparable financial backing to the self-employed.
Last week, the chancellor Rishi Sunak opened up access to the Universal Credit system to workers including freelancers and zero-hour contractors. However, claiming from the welfare system would only secure £94.25 per week for a self-employed worker, whilst the government promised to cover 80% of the salaries of employees.
On Sunday, the communities secretary Robert Jenrick recognised “this isn’t perfect”, adding: “It isn't easy, it's not as simple as supporting those who are in employment. The purpose of our employment mechanism is to help continue the connection between employees and their business so once this is over - and it will be over - those individuals can return to their usual work and that link isn't broken.
"It is operationally very difficult to create a scheme akin to that for the self-employed but we are reviewing this. If there are further steps we need to do, we will take them."
Speaking on the Jeremy Vine show this afternoon, Owen said: "What I can't understand is, they all say it's not easy to assess a self-employed person. But we all fill our tax returns every year - they know exactly how much we've earned over the years. So I can't understand why we are being penalised for being self-employed when [salaried] employees are being offered 80%."
At a suggestion from Vine that the government could use previous tax returns to calculate a median income for the self-employed and then pay out 80% of that sum, Owen said: "They have all the figures. I've been self-employed since 1994, so for them to say they find it difficult to figure that out for self-employed people is hard to understand."
Speaking of the difficulties facing out-of-work staff who work across live events and entertainment, the rigger said: "As soon a cap was announced on the number of people allowed in venues, everything was cancelled literally the next day.
"In the foreseeable future, there would be nothing for us to do - and it affects everyone on the entertainment and live events industry because most of us are self-employed.
"I wouldn't imagine it would be very long before things get very tight".
The full episode is available on BBC Sounds; Glyn Owen is interviewed at 1:42.
Sunak is expected to announce additional financial measures for the self-employed this week.

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