Getting people back to work

I  have drawn attention to the loss of nearly 800,000 self employed since February 2020, and proposed tax changes to reverse the losses. I am surprised Ministers  have allowed this to  happen and  have accepted the official argument that the loss is down to covid, when the losses  have continued after the end of lockdowns. There may well be people on benefits who would be both better off and happier if they worked for themselves, who have been put off by the paperwork and tax issues it raises. the rules now make it difficult for a self employed person to get a contract from a company.

The collapse of self employment is part of a wider problem Ministers are trying to address. They say maybe 500,00 people of working age are  now signed off from work owing to  ill health who would like to return to work. Whilst no-one who is badly incapacitated should be required to work, those with some physical conditions impeding mobility may well be able to work with computer assistance or from home, whilst those with mental health issues might find work can be part of the answer or part of the way of managing the condition.

The Secretary of State has announced various initiatives to tackle some of these problems. There is considerable delay, with elongated timetables for consultations to be followed by possible legislation. It should be time to accelerate the possible. I cannot believe it is against the law to run the Employment and benefit system to encourage and help people back to work. After all, that was the main point behind the legislation and reforms bringing in Universal Credit.

Ministers need to push harder. The economy will grow faster and the budget deficit will fall if we can persuade and help more people into work.  They will also be better off.


  1. Mark B
    September 18, 2023

    Good morning.

    The collapse of self employment is part of a wider problem Ministers are trying to address.

    Which is the last thing you should be doing as you will only make things even worse.

    The Secretary of State has announced various initiatives to tackle some of these problems.

    Oh dear, we’re too late !

    1. Everhopeful
      September 18, 2023

      Plus surely ( as one who suffered TWICE from strangulation by red tape) self-employment was purposely dismantled. What they have done to landlords is quite transparent.
      Didn’t the EU always do a good job of suppressing new businesses that just might prove a threat to the massive cartels?
      They have gradually swept up all means of self-sufficiency so we always have to go cap in hand. I see that aspirin is now a “restricted product” if you please. Soon they will be coming for the herbs in our gardens. Already we are scarcely able to buy effective pesticides and fertilisers.
      I am fairly certain that trad veg production depended on the use of soot, nicotine,Derris etc. all now frowned upon.

    2. PeteB
      September 18, 2023

      We need an initiative that makes it more valuable to work than to receive benefits. Simple.

      There are still around 1m job vacancies in the UK – why is the State paying people not to work?

    3. Ian+wragg
      September 18, 2023

      As I pointed our last week, my perfectly healthy stepson staffed away £50k inheritance and gave up a care work job. Then when the money was gone he signed on 18 months ago and has had no interviews, no sanctions or anything.
      The whole job centre thing is a farce and I bet he’s still drawing benefits this time next year despite every cate home in the district looking for staff.

    4. Javelin
      September 18, 2023

      The WEF parties can’t control the self employed. They are a threat to the WEF vision where all employees live under the threat of being cancelled and live in fear.

      No other explanation.

    5. iain gill
      September 18, 2023

      IR35 and mass issue of ICT work visas is a large part of the problem.

      And the lefty view that people taking risks doing freelance work are tax avoiders.

      No concept of the realities.

      A government which is openly anti business, unless that business is big enough to scratch their back.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 18, 2023

        “A government which is openly anti business, unless that business is big enough to scratch their backs”

        Exactly. Plus why might they want to scratch their backs – if they regulate to kill smaller competition or subsidise them with unfair taxpayer subsidies perhaps.

  2. DOM
    September 18, 2023

    Why should people work harder when they see can their taxes being pissed down the Socialist toilet day after day? Covid totalitarianism, green scams, HS2 parasitism, diversity and progressive authoritarianism, hotels for France’s off-casts…the list is endless where the State feeds off the taxpayer like a rat on a carcass

    And Sir John himself constantly condoning spending increases in the public sector as we see unionised staff picking up more money for the same work…god almighty, no wonder people have decided to work less when they see others constantly ‘on the take’

    Your bloody party constantly refusing to wage war against the left who now control all things even your own party

    May declares herself woke, a neo-Marxist ideology. It’s game over when the Tories slither away to curry favour with the enemy of freedom

    1. Lifelogic
      September 18, 2023

      Good old Woke May. It seems she as Home Sec. was the causes of the start of the great UK shoplifting boom. This when she downgraded shop living thefts of less than £200 in the courts and then our moronic police chiefs even actually promoted and advertised the fact that they would do nothing below this limit. Do nothing if at all possible is there general response to any crime (unless they can grab a speeding, bus lane or other fine that is).

      Why be self employed and put up with all the endless government tax, NI, vat, GDPR, IR35 and many other hassles if you can just be on benefits, get your rent, council tax and living costs covered and then do a bit of barter, black market, or shoplift £199 a day giving you perhaps £1500 PW disposable income after all you living costs. Or you can go to college become say a doctor after 5 or 6 years hard study and earn £34k in London after student loan interest, rent on a small room in a shared flat, council tax, commuting and living costs you have less than zero disposable income.

      Surely anyone who can just about answer a phone and speak coherently can hold down a job. Very many large companies clearly employ thousands of people who can answer the phone but not speak coherently, logically or even in comprehensible english after all.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 18, 2023

        You say “The economy will grow faster and the budget deficit will fall if we can persuade and help more people into work.” Indeed but you also say “They will also be better off” well perhaps – but often not better off financially and they will be very time poor. This as benefit levels rent and council tax paid are often more than you get after tax, work clothing, lunches and commuting cost especially if you have children and need childcare. Furthermore a couple on benefits can run & keep two flats paid for by taxpayers and often they do so. Being time poor is yet another tax as you have less time to shop efficiently, do diy, look after your children…

        I blame the government and the benefit system more than those behaving rather immorally but rather rationally given the bonkers system that pertains.

        This even before the bartering, black market work or a bit of under £200 shoplifting as seems to be encouraged by May, the police and the court system.

        1. iain gill
          September 18, 2023

          large % of the long term unemployed are housed in social housing near the old industrial dominant employers like steel works, mines, ship yards… which have long since shut. there is simply not sufficient jobs nowadays within commuting distance from where these people live. its the ridiculous way we continue to subsidise housing in places with no jobs, and trap people in these locations, which is a major issue. the whole social housing sector needs a shakeup so that individual people can take their subsidy to where the changing jobs market evolves.

    2. Sharon
      September 18, 2023


      I understand your anger, you are not alone, many people are very angry at what has happened to this country – in such a short time, it seems.

      At a 40th party this weekend, even there, people were discussing these issues… it all seems to follow us around like a bad smell!

    3. Jim+Whitehead
      September 18, 2023

      DOM, +++++

    4. Peter
      September 18, 2023

      A bigger problem not mentioned here is ‘economically inactive’ people of working age and in good health.

      Maybe benefits suit them. The difference in income may be insufficient for them to take work. Maybe they work on the sly as part of the black economy.

    5. Dave Ward
      September 18, 2023

      Well said!

    6. Fedupsouthener
      September 18, 2023

      Brilliant reply Dom

    7. BW
      September 18, 2023

      I cannot disagree with you Dom. trouble is we are now left with nobody to vote for. So the left will fill the gap. Then heaven help us.

      1. Norman
        September 18, 2023

        Starmer’s not ‘left’. Like Blair he’s authoritarian, pro-WEF, -WHO or -BIS, institutions which want to take over and run the world from the top down, from the very centre. The Labour ‘left’, or the little that remains of it, seemed to contain MPs who voted against lockdown restrictions and seem to be opposed to ever going back into the EU.

        The Great Reset concept is alarmingly like China’s Great Leap Forward 1958-62 and its Cultural Revolution. Those both failed, 50-60 years ago, but millions died.

    8. Derek
      September 18, 2023

      So you don’t believe a rise in the Defence budget is warranted? Defence is in the public sector and I doubt SJ condones all public sector rises.
      I no longer believe the current incumbents of Downing Street are of his Party. SJ’s Party is the ‘Conservative Party’ whereas the lot we have in power are more ‘LibDem’, although they wore blue at election time. And I have no doubt this has been the case since Mrs T was ‘Brutusised’. Much to the disarray we see now.

    9. APL
      September 18, 2023

      DOM: “Your bloody party constantly refusing to wage war against the left who now control all things even your own party”

      If you looked at the vote on the so called energy bill, you’d have seen that John Redwood ( credit where it’s due ) was one of about six tory MPs to vote against. THAT is the size of the Parliamentary Tory party today. The rest sitting on the government benches represent Mr Schwab’s interests.

  3. Clough
    September 18, 2023

    The official claim that 800,000 people lost to the workforce is ‘down to Covid’, is not an argument, but a lazy excuse. It is the result of your party in government’s policies in 2020 and since. If Ministers were serious about getting these people back to work, they would approach it as you say, not take forever about it.
    When it comes to getting migrants to work for the low-wage corporate sector, such as meal delivery outfits, no problem there, though. How many thousand were brought in last month, I wonder.

    1. Mark B
      September 19, 2023

      My philosophy is – work must be seen to pay. If does not, why bother.

  4. Everhopeful
    September 18, 2023

    Was it IDS who said something about bones and dogs?
    Very easy to bestow all these goodies ( at one time taxi fares, cinema/all types of entrance fees half price PLUS for a “carer” and much, much more) quite another thing to take them away!
    Unless one knows of a claimant it is very difficult to learn exactly what is there for the taking. At one time there used to be notices in the post office showing amounts.
    I bet now it is all “tailored”. No flat rate.

    Oh…and should they WISH claimants can work and earn a fair bit under or above the counter.
    Such a FAIR country we live in.

  5. William Long
    September 18, 2023

    I am afraid that Ministers have given up. They are just waiting for the General Election and a very welcome return to the ability to say it is all someone else’s fault.

  6. formula57
    September 18, 2023

    “I am surprised Ministers have allowed this to happen…” – !!!

    On 9th. September you published (@ your question about this and had Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions say in reply “I share my right hon. Friend’s keenness to see these proposals—whatever may or may not emerge—come forward as soon as possible”.

    So what has Minister Stride been doing in the last ten days or so? (Alas, we know: disavowing the triple lock on pensions. Is there no limit to this man’s evil?)

    1. formula57
      September 18, 2023

      @ formula57 – I see your Comment to the 9th. September diary said “The people who can benefit cannot afford Ministerial dithering, especially from a government on its last legs with a record of betrayal”.

      Quite right, a very sound point. (How modern of you to say so yourself).

  7. Bloke
    September 18, 2023

    If ministers didn’t slack at work themselves the present problem might not have arisen.

  8. BOF
    September 18, 2023

    Losses down to Covid? Losses down to lockdowns, furlough, and inflation caused by vast money printing, more like.

    And then there are those injured by ‘vaccinations’. These not so ‘safe and effective’ jabs continue, so people will continue to be injured. In a speech to the European Parliament Dr Peter McCullough gave the figure of 4.2% of serious adverse events, including death!

  9. Lifelogic
    September 18, 2023

    “Ministers need to push harder” you say. The only things they are pushing seen to be entirely negative IR35, ULEZ, the insane net zero, EV (that save no CO2 anyway) see the recent fair fuel UK report out shortly showing similar all life CO2 emissions. Note also that this compares buying a new EV car with a new petrol or diesel car. If you just keep your smallish old car going longer the case is even more overwhelming. A new EV then cause far, far more CO2 vastly more expensive to. Plus we have now spare low carbon electricity free or grid capacity.

    Oh and a bit more CO2 is not causing any climate emergency. And anyway it is not even the most important greenhouse gas. Not maintaining dams properly can kill 11,000+ here and now though.

    Ministers seem to have given up. Were they ever trying to help the voters? Sunak seems to have given up even on his five priorities/pledges. Probable considering what he fancies for his next globalist shill job (in circa 12 months time will be).

  10. JoolsB
    September 18, 2023

    Why on earth would people possibly want to go out to work when this socialist Government pays them so handsomely not to bother? They even get an inflation linked pay rise, unlike those who actually go out to work who are forced to pay for their generous handouts.

  11. Iain gill
    September 18, 2023

    Stop printing intra company transfer visas for people with generic skills coming here in large numbers to displace locals from the workforce. Stop giving them tax perks to undercut locals. Stop handing out indefinite leave to remain simply for working here a few years.
    Stop subsidising social housing in jobless areas.
    Give parents buying power with schools and let them take their business away from sink schools.
    Stop the state caps on numbers of Brits allowed to enter training in various roles like medicine, nursing, etc.

  12. majorfrustration
    September 18, 2023

    Its as though the Government just cant see the problems that the voters are facing yet bumble on with poetless gestures, promises and failed projects

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    September 18, 2023

    There are too many benefits available which means that people don’t need to work. This is a simple calculation for benefits recipients and government alike.

    Unfortunately the siren howls of foodbanks, the children and immigrants welcome, scare your government from doing anything about it. Your government would rather spend (future) taxpayers’ funds avoiding the grief.

    Inflationary increase year on year when you should have been looking to withdraw entitlements and the amount paid.

  14. Peter D Gardner
    September 18, 2023

    One wonders what proportion of ministers has ever either been self employed or run a small business. They seem terribly divorced from reality.

  15. Mike Wilson
    September 18, 2023

    I have to say that now I am retired I meet a lot more people – out and about whilst walking my dog. Here in West Dorset there seem to be a lot of people of working age that don’t work. They seem to know how to work the benefits system as, although they are relatively hard up, they still seem to live okay. Indeed some do better than okay. Is it fibromyalgia, ME, depression, anxiety or just a simple ‘why should I do a menial job when I can live on benefits’. Surely if you get benefits you should have to do something – unless, of course, you really are not able to.

  16. Walt
    September 18, 2023

    But Sir John, people are getting into work – of a sort – at least according to this morning’s Telegraph newspaper, which reports that “The NHS is creating hundreds of diversity and inclusion roles…” in three new departments under “…Dr Navinia Evans, who is on a salary of more than £200,000.” Apparently this is despite instructions to reduce “waste and wokery.”
    Who is responsible? Who governs?

    1. Clough
      September 19, 2023

      Who governs, Walt? Well, the government includes a ‘Minister for Women and Equalities’ with two under-secretaries. This gives the lead to other state bureaucrats e.g. in the NHS to set up similar little empires. Bureaucracy spawns bureaucracy, as we know.

  17. agricola
    September 18, 2023

    Your government and its scribes do not like the self employed and therefore do nothing to help them flourish, taxwise or in any other way. The employed are envious, thinking it is all cakes and ale out there, which only emphasises their ignorance and lack of guts to go SE.

    There is a lack of appreciation in government and politicians that the SE are the seed corn of the country. Most of the mechanised mouths in Westminster are the stoney ground. They are the ones that act as a sea anchor on enterprise. They are where the problem lies, in the swamp that is in dire need of draining.

    My advice to anyone going SE would be to work a considerable part of your time in the black. Government and its circus does not deserve to benefit from your enterprise. HMRC cannot even bother to answer the telephone, do not make it easy for them. Therein lies their desire to kill cash and control you through your bank. Like the executers of ULEZ do not make life easy for these parasites.

    1. Mark B
      September 19, 2023

      I have said this here before but it is worth repeating. My MP (Conservative) has never, I repeat NEVER, worked in the private sector. Jobs in Local Government, the NHS and then as a SpAd.

  18. Dave Andrews
    September 18, 2023

    Successive governments have created an environment hostile to employment. I’ll leave it to others to comment about the self-employment minefield. When it comes to the sole trader considering employing anyone, he is faced with a mountain of legislation, most of which he will be in sweet ignorance about, till he discovers he really needed to be legally trained to employ anyone. A dodgy employee can cost a company dear, and the state operates a corrupt compensation claim industry to encourage him in any false allegation.
    The only businesses that can confidently employ anyone are large concerns, which have a substantial HR department and rule with a rod of iron. Oppressive employment becomes the norm.

  19. Bloke
    September 18, 2023

    During earlier times, government used to tick over quietly in the background performing most tasks reasonably competently. Sometimes major events would emerge attracting bold headlines and urgent remedy; then things worked. Now there is so much wrong there is a constant barrage of nuisance and complaints with government fundamentally at fault and virtually nothing done to remedy. Britain was far better during the period 1950 to near 2000. The last 10 years appear to be worst and the UK doesn’t work.

  20. Ian B
    September 18, 2023

    Sir John

    “The collapse of self employment is part of a wider problem Ministers are trying to address” – are you sure it seems the reverse to me. All the employment that has been gathering pace over the last couple of years are a result of the Conservative Government trying to soak up and employ as many people as possible in non-jobs within the State.

    Logic – they are building a massive Socialist State were all jobs are their responsibility. Their responsibility ‘not to care’ as there are no outcomes, no delivery just a massive unmanaged burden to cripple the Country.

  21. Bryan Harris
    September 18, 2023

    It’s going to be hard to get people back to work – by increasing benefits HMG is encouraging the opposite – they want people dependent on the State. They have already spoken about a basic income paid by the State.

    With the economy in the doldrums, and a banking crisis scheduled for the near future, there is little hope for prospects in the job sector.
    What was that phrase that a certain cabinet minister under Thatcher said to the unemployed; ‘Get on your bikes’ and find work…

    Fat chance of that with so many road restrictions, 20MPH zones and 15 minutes cities on the horizon. Not to mention the war against motorists generally.

    It seems we are doomed to become a nation of mostly unemployed, kept afloat by the few that still produce to keep us solvent.

  22. Ian B
    September 18, 2023

    Sir John

    I don’t know, just logic suggests this situation is Metro London centric. Could it be the transport system has been deliberately run down and hostile to users? Roads, tube, train all being used not to aid commerce to bend minds to political ideology.

    Mind you London is now a Foreign Country hostile to even the casual visitor.

    One thing that confuses me if I lived in Maidstone and worked for the State in town(London) I would get London weighting. So if I no longer travel to work, WFH, even just 3 days a week do I still enjoy the extra pounds loaded into my pay-packet?

  23. a-tracy
    September 18, 2023

    I can’t believe what I’m reading, John. Your party has been on a mission to reduce self-employment; I have read articles by Matthew Taylor with concerns about the employer’s national insurance not being paid and underpayment of taxes. Philip Hammond’s wish to increase NICs on self-employed. He said: “self-employed people get I think over 99 per cent of public spending entitlements available to employed people or available to self-employed people, and most welfare entitlements as well”.The constant banging on about it for over six years have succeeded.

    Whoops, did your party not fully consider the aftermath?

    It’s been called exploitation, and Labour are promising to end the last dregs of it. Your side agreed, ‘It feels to Tory Heidi Allen that the gig economy is growing and the state is going to ‘pick up the pieces’. Self-employment “gives them tax advantages or has enabled them to circumvent employment rules.” Here’s an example of the thinking:
    Taylor added: “I do not think that is about saying that we simply would pass on employer’s national insurance to me, as the person paying for the gardener for three hours— that is, they are self-employed, and I now have to pay a labour tax on them. That is an obvious way in which you might do it overnight, but it would be difficult to do.” Is it difficult, or were you planning that the self-employed had to pay 25.8% NI above £12,570 and charge it on in their charges? You’d see a lot of households leaving their garden to weeds like our high streets are now, their windows uncleaned.

  24. Roy Grainger
    September 18, 2023

    It would be interesting to know – but I haven’t been able to find the answer – how many of the 500,000 signed-off sick are in the public sector and how many are in the private sector and what the % of the total workforce that represents in each sector. I worked in the private sector for years in FTSE 100 companies and I can only ever remember one or two people who were signed-off on long-term sickness.

  25. George Sheard
    September 18, 2023

    Hi john
    What’s happening is people are claiming benefits and working on the side, the plaster doing my friend house is on benefits and getting paid , 600 pounds tax free he also gets free glasses and dental treatments

  26. mickc
    September 18, 2023

    “Ministers are trying to address…” Unfortunately this lot couldn’t address an envelope.
    The cry of “thirteen wasted years” is, yet again all too true.
    Macmillan instead of Butler, then Home instead of Butler, Cameron instead of Davis, (admittedly the membership got that one wrong…misled by the MSM that a mediocre speech was somehow brilliant…) the overthrow of Johnson, then the overthrow of Truss in favour of Sunk…the Parliamentary is useless at selecting Leaders.
    God knows which donkeys will be put up next…

  27. a-tracy
    September 18, 2023

    Universal credit reforms.
    Some people want the State to take over feeding all primary school children in the State schooling system; Labour see this as a way to grow the economy! “For example, in addition to contributing to better health, education and economic outcomes for young people, well-structured investments in healthy and sustainable school meals can create a massive market opportunity for UK agriculture and food industries. This potential to leverage school meal procurement to transform food supply chains has already been recognised in Sweden”. Source Guardian
    So does this mean that in term time, the Universal credit payment to the parent reduces by the current average of £2.70 per day per child? UC has an extra payment per child, (ex.child tax credits). Back in 2020 total UC benefits entitlement £400 per week with council tax support, housing support, for a parent working 16 hours per week on minimum wage 2 kids. Total income £520 per week (that’s £27,000 pa) and you think you can persuade these people to couple up and pay their own way.

  28. oldwulf
    September 18, 2023

    “Getting people back to work”

    Employers pay National Insurance on the earnings of their workers. I believe the amount payable is currently 13.8% on earnings above £175 per week.

    This is a tax on jobs and ideally should be phased out in order to encourage increased employment, eventually significantly reduce IR35 issues and also to simplify the salary/dividend decision for company owner/directors.

    1. Mark B
      September 19, 2023

      The thing is, if they got rid of ENIC they would actually get more money. That money is not going to disappear. It will be on the company books and will, if not spent, be taxed at a rate (for small business) of 19%. If the money is spent then it goes into the wider economy and helps to create wealth and growth. All of which helps the government as they then reap even more taxes.

      1. a-tracy
        September 19, 2023

        I hadn’t heard of the marginal relief up to £250k until recently. It certainly isn’t going to encourage people to go flat out.

        From April, businesses will pay the higher 25 per cent corporation tax rate, provided they report profits above £250,000. Smaller entities with profits of up to £50,000 will remain at the previous 19 per cent rate.

        All other businesses that file profits of £50,001 and above but below £250,000 will receive marginal relief of 26.5 per cent. Marginal relief implements a gradual increase in corporation tax rates for companies making profits that fall between the lower and upper limits.

        For example:
        A business with a taxable profit of £85,000 will pay 19 per cent up to the first £50,000, then 26.5 per cent up to £250,000 = £18,775.
        If the profit were to increase to £250,000, the same calculation would apply, giving rise to a corporation tax liability of £62,500.
        A larger company with a profit of £300,000 would pay their full tax bill based on a 25 per cent rate = £75,000.

        The 19 per cent rate for smaller businesses is called the small profits rate (or SPR). Source rodel

  29. agricola
    September 18, 2023

    The key to getting people back to work is to cease offering incentives not to work. I accept that there are some in society that need our support and in most cases better than we give them. However there seems to be a whole industry out there that positively encourages people not to work.
    Last week I received a flyer through the door selling boilers and everything related to central heating. Only they were not selling, they were offering it all for free under a UK/GOV scheme (EC04). The flyer stated:-
    Do you receive benefits.
    Was your boiler installed before 2005
    Is your boiler over 17 years old.
    Pension credit guarantee credit
    Income related employment and support allowance (ESA)
    Income based jobseekers allowance ( JSA)
    Income support
    Universal credit
    Child tax credit
    Working tax credit
    Pension credit saving credit
    Housing benefit
    Child benefit
    For many out there this must be eldorado, absolutely negating any desire to work. And free boilers are by no means the end of the freebies on offer, all paid for from the taxes of those who do work. As I have said, some should be looked after and better than they are.
    There are supposedly 1m job vacancies and between 4 and 5% of the working population out of work. Disincentivising and reskilling those who can work seems the way to go. At worst resort farms need crop pickers under the mantra pick or don’t eat.
    Government has created this burden on the UK economy ie taxpayers, and government must rebalance it or talent will drain from the country along with overtaxed industry, leaving only benefit claimants.

    1. a-tracy
      September 19, 2023

      agricola, people who used to work prior to covid often hadn’t realised just how many benefits, council tax discounts, top ups on UC were available. They became enlightened especially if they were single and discovered they were much better off quitting 9-5 5 days per week and just doing 2 eight-hour days, or not working at all with long covid.

  30. Mickey Taking
    September 18, 2023

    It all feels like whispering against a howling gale.

  31. Denis+Cooper
    September 18, 2023

    Off topic, I have just sent an email to Keir Starmer about the very limited scope for a better trade deal with the EU, with a reference to this comment from almost five years ago:

    It starts: “A deal like CETA, with the UK playing the part of Canada, would … “, and the rest adds up to disaster.

    It’s OK, I’ll just carry on for another five years, or until I drop, by when some people including in the media may have understood that nowadays special trade deals are rarely worth much more than trading on WTO terms.

    1. Denis+Cooper
      September 18, 2023

      A strong refutation from Wolfgang Munchau here:

      “Probably the biggest delusion yet to be unpicked is Sir Keir’s repeated assertion that there is a better deal with the EU out there. This is simply not true.”

    2. Denis+Cooper
      September 18, 2023

      This comes as no surprise to me:

      “No way to meet DUP’s demands around Windsor Framework, legal advice to UK government states”

      “The British government has received independent legal advice which indicates that meeting the DUP’s demands around the Windsor Framework would require “fundamentally changing” the agreement and cannot be done in domestic law.”

      Actually as Parliament is sovereign it could be done in domestic law “notwithstanding any agreement with the EU”, but that would provoke the EU to start a trade war – and understandably so, at least to some extent.

  32. forthurst
    September 18, 2023

    Who are these people? Age, sex, educational attainment, work history, medical conditions. Without having a clearer picture of who these people are, how can it be determined the best way to encourage them back to work or otherwise accept that they are incapable of making a positive economic contribution for valid reasons. That is not a job for a favoured Tory private spiv outfit that hassles people irrespective of their circumstances or likelihood of their situation changing.

  33. Bert+Young
    September 18, 2023

    There are glimpses of hope around the world today and we should be encouraging every individual to take whatever opportunity occurs . The BoE must NOT raise the Bank Rate this week and show that they finally understand the problem they have caused in the past .

  34. Atlas
    September 18, 2023

    Mental health issues are tricky – not everybody is a skiver – and need to be handled with care.

  35. Derek
    September 18, 2023

    Getting people back to work? LOL. When is the Government actually going to get back to work and force their civil servants to join them? Perhaps the Government will also take the lead this time and ignore the outmoded principles of the Mandarins and and go for growth?
    Having more and more citizens working surely would increase growth? So why would this government make it so difficult for able persons to run their own business? Maybe the politico elites do not want anyone to be independent of them?
    I believe they really think a multitude of big Corporations is the only way forward – a la EU – where their massive and complicated list of rules and regulations made it all but impossible for many SMEs to trade with them. Current government policy sounds far too similar for coincidence and comfort.

  36. David Frank Paine
    September 18, 2023

    Raising the VAT threshold or better still scrapping it altogether for sole traders would be a step in the right direction.

  37. Keith from Leeds
    September 18, 2023

    We need a change of PM and Chancellor to change the tax system so it favours workers, whether self-employed or not. This Government hoses money around like it has plenty of it. When the Government has run a deficit budget for Twenty years it is not rocket science to grasp that something is wrong. Jeremy Hunt simply says there is no room for tax cuts, but isn’t his job to find room by cutting Government spending. What does he do all day?
    A determined Chancellor could find 100 billion in spending cuts without damaging front-line services. The Civil Service at 530,000 staff is still recruiting!!!!! Stop that for a start, and start making a large number of them redundant, especially if they are working from home. Stop giving money to charities that oppose the government. Remove all DIE staff from all public bodies, especially the NHS. The only way the conservatives will win the General Election is by making serious tax cuts on people and businesses.

    1. a-tracy
      September 19, 2023

      There have been tax cuts, Keith, via NI free personal allowance increase for people earning under £35k, the people don’t seem even to realise.
      In 2010 the personal allowance was £6475 it is now £12570
      the pa on NI was £5720 in 2010 to £12570
      (it should have been increased this year, but people have to pay off the COVID debt and the 2008 crash debt. Most people I saw wanted more lockdown, not less, they wanted their furlough, SEISS for the self-employed, their test centres and test kits some using them every day!)
      Another reason people don’t notice is because they now contribute 5% to a workplace pension since 2012.

      I hear people on the news all the time saying we need more Home Office staff to process asylum seekers claims quicker not less. Personally I think we should be looking at their productivity per person and check the quality of the people already working in that department inc the managers.

      I hear people who want more teachers, more doctors, more nurses, all those people need more managing, more wellbeing help because even at the qualification levels they have they aren’t happy and can’t work nicely with each other, you couldn’t make it up!

  38. XY
    September 18, 2023

    How is “self employed” being measured / defined?

    Technically, that would be those operating under Schedule D. However, various pieces of legislation over the years has skewed the picture (mostly aimed at agency abuses, but agencies squirm out of it in various ways, such as only dealing with workers via Ltd Cos).

    So now, the self-employed *might* include:

    1. Schedule D.
    2. Those using Ltd Cos operating outside IR35.
    3. Those using Ltd Cos operating inside IR35.
    4. Various (rare) setups such as LLPs.

    I would say that only 1 and 2 are genuinely self employed in the wider sense. Anyone in category 3 has effectively been hit with employment taxes (both employers and employees taxes!).

    Sch D nowadays only really applies to those who deal directly with the public (plumbers etc) or those who can find a contract directly with a company, which is rare and even then the client company will usually insist that the worker is through a Ltd Co.

    Those in category 2 (outside IR35) are finding that agencies include an “indemnity” clause in the contract which passes any PAYE costs of IR35 back onto the worker (if the outside contract is later deemed to be inside). The worker has very little control over that now, since the payer (agency) is the entity that HMRC would go after, so it’s questionable if the worker can even defend the case (as they used to be able to when they made the status assessment and held the risks).

    All a dog’s dinner. Or perhaps, a minefield – one designed to deter any form of self-employment other than your plumber type.

    1. a-tracy
      September 19, 2023

      5. personal service companies, partnerships delivering a personal service, who HMRC believe are getting away with not paying their fair share of taxes.

  39. margaret
    September 18, 2023

    Yes ..if I do more hours work ,I get paid less!

  40. John Downes
    September 18, 2023

    Until you get rid of the IR35 nonsense you will not help the self-employed.

  41. Chris S
    September 18, 2023

    Surely the loss of 700,000 self employed businesses must be due to the tight labour market and higher wages on offer ?

  42. margaret
    September 18, 2023

    At this time there is an interesting programme on the BBC about the recent conservative years in government. Interesting?

  43. Lindsay+McDougall
    September 19, 2023

    The Government could try pulling the financial levers to work on human behaviour in the obvious way:
    – reduce the Universal Credit benefit cap to £18,000 (£21,000 in London)
    – take anyone earning £20,000 out of income tax and personal NI altogether
    – review the 40 Government schemes designed to ‘help families’ and rationalise them
    – reduce corporation tax to match the Republic of Ireland’s 12.5% rate
    – reduce the VAT bureaucracy for small companies

    We could also increase labour supply in the private sector by getting rid of public sector non-jobs:
    – Lefty immigration lawyers
    – Equality and Diversity jobs
    – Many Senior Management and non-clinical jobs in the NHS
    – The entire Race Relations Commission payroll and the pernicious legislation that goes with them
    – Jobs in the Regulators’ offices that do not improve quality of service

    And that’s just for starters.

    1. a-tracy
      September 19, 2023

      “take anyone earning £20,000 out of income tax and personal NI altogether”

      Lindsay, why shouldn’t people contribute to the state pension, long-term and accident insurance, and the NHS through payroll taxes?

      Even though other Countries don’t have national insurance, they have to pay payroll taxes for health-cover, accident insurance, social security, long long-term care insurance from 10,908 euros in Germany.

      I know taxes aren’t ringfenced, but employers were led to believe the employer’s contribution was for the NHS, the State Pension and out of work insurance.

      6% – State Pension
      7% – NHS (Brown added the extra 1% specifically for the NHS)
      0.8% – Insurance
      3% – Workplace pension
      Total contribution by the employer 16.8%

      That’s why they don’t like the self-employed status, and IR35 was introduced because without it this 16.8% contribution isn’t paid, whilst the same benefits are there. Sick pay is covered by the business now and isn’t recoverable from the State and sick pay holiday pay was added.

  44. Mactheknife
    September 19, 2023

    I’m afraid Sir John, you have it all wrong when you say people would like to return to work. Those I know who have retired or withdrawn from the workforce since Covid have done so out of choice. They have no intention of returning.

    However, I will agree that there are way too many, who prefer using the benefits system, to their advantage.

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