Michael Weedon, East Midlands Policy Lead for the FSB commented that there are 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK so it’s a huge fertile area of growth - self-employed people make up a key area of the economy.
Chaired by FSB Area Leader, Les Phillimore, the group addresses to ‘access to finance’ as a key issue, which for the self-employed with less than three years’ worth of accounts can be a crippling issue. Credit ratings are often very poor at this early stage in a business development and with no assets in the business, loans may be secured against a home.
Mr Pursglove suggested that Universal Credit could evolve into a system that allowed for small grants as business progresses.
Discussions then turned to tax, making tax digital and IR35. It was noted that tax investigation protection is a free benefit of FSB membership should there be any issues with HMRC.
Of major concern for self-employed people are pensions and the risk that most self-employed people don’t have the funds to pay into a pension. Claire Elsby from Elsby and Co-told us“80% of small businesses don’t have pension provision and many don’t have insurance”. There was a call for the government to lead on a pensions dashboard for the self-employed.
Tom Pursglove has subsequently received from Secretary of State for Work and Pensions a statement saying “An industry-led pensions dashboard facilitated by government will harness the best industry innovation, and Government will protect pensions savers by legislating when necessary”. The FSB asks that the government ensure that this is delivered effectively and with the small business user in mind.
The meeting also touched on independent shops potentially looking to expand to a second shop and the issues that are raised with the current business rate system.
There was a lot of passion in the room for being self-employed and generating income and growth through doing what you love, however lots of frustration surrounding the costs and time constraints of compliance.
Tom Pursglove concluded by saying to the self-employed members in the room “It’s vital that I hear from people like yourselves and the contribution you make. You take the difficult decisions and deliver on the ground every day. I’m keen to feed into specialists and happy to lobby ministers regarding your concerns.”
For further information regarding the FSB’s self-employed agenda click here.