Help for the self employed

Yesterday I sent the letter beneath to the Chancellor:

Dear Rishi

Thank you for developing and announcing a scheme to ensure many people currently self employed will receive an income top up from the state during a period when many of them are not allowed to work or are experiencing a big decline in  activity over the virus restrictions. I am pleased you settled on ensuring 80% of past income up to a ceiling. 

There are, however, some people in need that your scheme does not help at all. Will you please ensure that someone who has set up a self employed business more recently and who depends on that income is also covered? They should be paid on the basis of what they were earning on average per month in the period after start up, if the start up was before the beginning of 2020 and the start of the virus.

 There are self-employed people who run their own small companies and paid themselves in dividends. Where they do not have other material accessible  assets and are clearly living on the income from their self employment, they too should be able to claim assistance.

 I understand your concern to avoid fraud. In these cases I suggest self certification in the claim, to be followed later after the immediate crisis by HMRC random sample testing of the sound basis of  claims and of course follow up by HMRC in specific cases where fraud is suspected. HMRC should be able to impose tough penalties and to publish fraudulent conduct as a further penalty for the few cases where crooks abuse the system.

Yesterday’s scheme is also delaying payments until June. Many self-employed people on modest earnings do not have large cash buffers waiting to pay all their family bills for three months. One of the main reasons given for the delay was the need to allow more self-employed people to submit tax returns. It seems unfair on the large majority who have done so to hold everyone up for this, so why not get on with dealing  with all of those who have filed and give them earlier payments.

 I do not agree with you about the possible need to tax the self employed more when this is over. Self-employed do not get the same benefits as employed. Giving them a scheme now for these quite unprecedented and we hope not to be repeated circumstances does not equalise their treatment generally. At a time when we wish to care for people being put through extreme financial distress by government actions taken on health grounds, they as taxpayers have as much right to help as anyone else.

Your general statement of aims and your understanding of the importance of the self employed was great. Please persuade your officials to make the scheme friendlier to the sector as a whole which serves us well and will be needed again soon.



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  1. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Excellent! Self employed people take full responsibility and risk for themselves. They cannot be lumped in the same pile as, for instance NHS workers who even in this crisis have full salary and are being given preferential treatment by corporations in many ways.

    Please note that the whole point of this universal quarantine is the assumption that we are all ‘vulnerable’. None of us are allowed to opt out.

    Please give some consideration to the plight of Landlords whose tenants have been granted the wherewithal to pay rents but who have Govt. backing to refuse to do so. It is the Banks who will fall over when mortgage payments cannot be met.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      The very least they could do to assists landlords (and thus also their tenants) is to relax the absurd bank lending restrictions and the very restrictive stress testing on buy to let lending. Also the further lending restrictions on people with several properties or professional landlords. Furthermore the absurd and unsustainable way landlords are now taxed on profits they that have not even made. These further restrict bank lending to this area of the economy damaging landlords, tenants, gdp, jobs and the economy.

    • dixie
      Posted March 29, 2020 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      Richard Tice (dot com) has suggested a set of pragmatic and tangible steps that can help small businesses and the sole trader immediately.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    All good points. But Sunak is the man who just (almost completely) abolished entrepreneur’s relief an idiotic thing to do which takes money off people who use and invest it well, employ people and expand the economy. Transferring this money to government who largely piss it down the drain on idiocies like ‘renewable’ subsidies, HS2 and large numbers of people doing little of much value and a lot of positive harm. He also did nothing about the absurdly high levels of stamp duty.

    A huge disincentive to new entrepreneurs and a very bad signal to send out. This from the UK’s current position of being hugely over taxes and regulated already. Thanks to the economic illiterates Brown, Darling, Osborne and Hammond.

    The other group being given no assistance is landlords. The government is encouraging tenants not to pay rents. Landlords are already heavily taxed on often on profits they have not even actually made. Now they will be taxed on rents not actually received too.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Is the FCA ever going to undo the moronic stupidity of their rules that have resulted in 40% or even 78% overdraft interest rates? Corbyn has now picked up on this total outrage. Many people may need to use these overdraft facilities but cannot, due to the absurd (400 times base rate interest) that most banks are now charging.

      Also allow people and companies to borrow from their pension pots without penalty.

      Something is also needed on life insurance too so that people who are unable to pay premiums for the next few months do not lose out just when they might well need the cover most.

      Also we need to ensure credit reference agencies do not damage people access to credit due to these temporary cashflow difficulties.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Sunak also retained the appallingly damaging IR35 lunacy, even now he has only delayed it by a year. He does not seem to be a friend of the wealth creating sector (and certainly his department are not).

      Boris and Sunak need to get more like Churchillian in this regard, the less you nobble or load up the horse the better for all.

      “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.’

      Winston Churchill

  3. Iain Gill
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Misses out those using umbrella companies for some or all of their freelance work.
    Even if they are still on the umbrellas books, many will not, there is no way the umbrella will be able to pay 80 percent because their profit margin is so small effectively running payroll for freelancers.
    Also any freelancers who happened to earn more from umbrella (maybe public sector gigs inside ir35) than through their own limited company one tax year will not be eligible, when paradoxically they are one of the highest taxed parts of the workforce having to pay for work travel and hotels out of taxed money.

    • acorn
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      They would have been better off if IR35 had been introduced this year.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        no they wouldnt, dont be silly

        having to pay for work travel & hotels out of taxed money is always going to be a silly over taxation

        real world freelancers who have used both types of legal employment framework are in trouble because the government simply does not understand that they exist and how it works in the real world

        using umbrella companys to do your invoicing and run your payroll is not “employment” you never have any rights, it is the absolute minimum to get through the rules, and you will never be there long enough to gain tenure. and its not covered by what the govt is doing or what john is asking for.

        over taxed with zero benefits and no understanding or help from the government

        • Iain Gill
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          Indeed chancellor compliains about tax paid but fails to help those who have paid the most tax people who have used umbrella companies.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Why do BBC people so often get even very obvious things totally back to front?

    Lewis Goodall, Policy Editor, BBC Newsnight (History and Politics Oxford) last night said that Boris needs us to believe in and this stick to the lock down measures ‘or it will take much longer and be much bloodier”. No the whole point of the (belated) measures is to try slow the spread of the infection so that the NHS can cope. It will actually take longer due to these measures. They will not speed up the process. Hancock failed to grasp this too.

    • Horatio
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      It is very fustrating that mainstream (mainly ex Guardian) media are asking all the wrong questions. Andrew Neil and Hitchens among others are now pointing out that countries with low declared covid mortility have not crashed their economies for the next decade, by locking down but by instead isolate just the vulnerable. They also test very widely. If israel, south korea, singapore and sweden can do this, why cant we?
      The key questions are did the person die ‘with or from’ covid. It will be very interesting to see the year on year death rates for serious disease for march, i would include flu in this (flu kilks 17,000 p/a in England alone.. have we seen a drop in the avg declared deaths of what we now seem to call Civid co-morbiditues rather than the more logical vice versa.

      Countries that have tested the most, notably south korea, germany and australia have produced data that suggests that covid is less dangerous than flu. Imperial college models that caused the economy, job destroying lockdown now backtrack to suggest that covid related deaths will be much much reduced. Will we again lockdown the economy and have govt spending not seen since the 1970s the next bad flu season we have-likely to kill more. Who benefits from this massive and absurd govt borrowing across the Western world. Isnt ut time we applied facts and not allow our feelings to be manipulated by manufactured hyperbole?

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink


      Agreed, that was the whole point of the measures, but it may by default lead to fewer people getting the virus overall, and thus fewer deaths in the vulnerable groups.

      I fear this will run its course but over very many more months.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      While I agree with the sentiment of your comments I must question (1) why we are in lockdown while Sweden isn’t and is doing okay and (2) are the NHS coping; we don’t know because nobody knows how many coronavirus cases there are in hospital?

    • BOF
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Spot on LL. The NHS is is failing now and ever since I can remember. The whole purpose of the lock down is to protect the NHS, and to prevent their failure from becoming obvious to all.

      I note that S Korea, where there was a very bad outbreak, very quickly got it under control. They have a national health service which everyone contributes to on a compulsory basis.

      • graham1946
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Perhaps your memory only goes back 10 years. Prior to that it worked fairly well, targets were in the main met. Not perfect, but I don’t know of any organisation that is, whether public or private. I unfortunately have been a patient of the NHS for many years and I know a nursing Sister who retired early last year because of the demands and pressure and have a nephew who is a GP and my osteopath is an ex nurse so I get to know quite a bit about what goes on. Two things have gone wrong. First the stupid system introduced in 2012 which duplicates work all over the place and requires more managers than clinicians and secondly the funding has not kept pace with the huge rise in population. Thousands of beds have been cut over the last ten years. How do you expect the NHS to cope day to day, let alone in an emergency?

      • forthurst
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        South Korea had and still have a massive testing programme to identify new cases, trace contacts and quarantine for two weeks.

        The peak of the epidemic in South Korea was on March 1st at 1062 new cases; our epidemic recorded 2975 yesterday on a steep upward trajectory. The epidemic in South Korea has been overstated in comparison to the West where little attempt has been made to test, monitor or control the epidemics: the price in human misery and economic damage will be immense.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I see that the (essentially Libdem/“BBC think” person and Benn Act traitor) Greg Clarke is becoming a new BBC favourite. Why exactly was he let back into the Conservative party, indeed why did he even join it? Might it not be better if the Chair of Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee had some basic understanding of science, engineering, physics, energy and the likes? Or can they not find anyone in parliament prepared to do it who does?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–As I frequently say here, these people are qualified only by election so the fact that many of them know so little is not surprising. I wonder how many have decent degrees in say Chemistry like Maggie Thatcher.

    • Andy
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Newsnight and Today regularly speak to grown ups like Greg Clark and David Gauke because the Johnson / Cummings government refuses to allow serving minions to appear. This is because the Brexit backing climate change deniers in government don’t like being held to account and can’t handle easy questions – let alone difficult ones.

      This should set alarm bells ringing for you. If all the things you believe are such good ideas they would be easy to defend in an interview. But it turns out they’re not. Instead the Johnson / Cummings Brexit snowflakes are scared so play chicken every single night and stay at home instead. Occasionally you get one of them dimwitted backbenchers on spouting their guff. They invariably say something untrue or silly. But then you refuse to accept that these people are fools so it doesn’t matter anyway. If the audience chooses to remain ignorant there is not much the BBC can do.

      Reply They don’t invite me on. Im happy to discuss these matters.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Grown ups? EUphile lefty, climate alarmist pushing, big state pushing LibDems dopes might be rather more accurate. Why on earth did they even feel they should join the Conservative Party?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        And this applies to Labour as well as the Conservatives.

      • graham1946
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Clarke? Have you had anything to do with him? I have on some planning matters a few years ago and he and his sidekick Brandon Lewis. Two less impressive characters would be hard to find.

  6. oldwulf
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    The position of “self employed people who run their own small companies and paid themselves in dividends” is perhaps more difficult. Presumably, usually aided by their smart Accountants, they have been avoiding the payment of National Insurance.

    As a trade-off, would it be reasonable to ask these people to regularise their tax affairs in future ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      This is perfectly legal and it is what the tax system encourages some people to do. National Insurance is not due on dividends. Nothing irregular about it. The government has an idiotic tax system and people will clearly try (very sensibly given how wasteful governments are) to minimise their taxes within the system that pertains.

      • oldwulf
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Hi Lifelogic

        As I understand it, there is nothing in the tax legislation which says that directors should receive a “market rate” salary. However, where a director’s salary is “too high” then HMRC may apply a market rate test – for corporation tax deduction purposes – I think under case law. I think this is comparatively rare, presumably because Income Tax and National Insurance liabilities would be much higher than the corporation tax saving.

        I believe there is no equivalent market rate test (as yet) where the director’s salary is “too low”.

        I, of course, take your points about the idiotic tax system and wasteful government but I think it would be unfair to give the same handouts to someone who has avoided tax/NI as the handouts given to those who have not.

        When I said “regularise” I was probably careless in my choice of word. Sorry about that.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, this is exactly what will happen as a result of our host’s erroneous thinking today. Investing and working in a small company will become less viable because the owner/manager won’t receive the same returns on his investment via dividends as he did.

      Who’ll invest if he doesn’t and the banks won’t?

    • APL
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      oldwulf: “would it be reasonable to ask these people to regularise their tax affairs in future ?”

      Are their tax affairs irregular? What is irregular about being a shareholder in a company and distributing the profits of the company to shareholders. That is only what every listed company in the country is entitled to do

      Do you mean illegal, because it’s not illegal either.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      We shouldn’t attack the self employed for using the tax system we should attack the rules of the tax system…time scrape the tax book and start anew

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and to acknowledge that a marginal rate of tax over 90% is too much! That’s why every business is living hand to mouth. Most people are apparently 2 months away from bankruptcy too. Huge toll on mental health!

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      While the Chancellor intimated a different view on National Insurance could be in the offing – as in consolidation. May be we (the UK) wouldn’t be in such a mess if for the most part we firmed up the meaning of Nation Insurance.

      You pay for Insurance to ensure a full back situation when things go wrong. Logic is if you don’t pay the premium you should not derive the same benefit of those that do. Society appears to be demanding equal status for those that ‘ensure they don’t pay’ to those that ‘do pay’.

      That poses the question why should anyone contribute to society, when the support is equal.

      Clearly some, but only some find themselves needing assistance to lift them into the position of contributing as others do. But some think what the heck I get the same benefits either way.

      The end result is there is never enough taxpayer money to go around and solve real situations.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        The meaning of National Insurance is another income TAX.

        They split it into three bits Income Tax 20% to 45%, Employee NI and Employer NI (total) circa 23% that way it sound far less than it is. That is the only reason to spit it. Oh and to make much more pointless work for everyone to administer it.

        • glen cullen
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          100% correct

  7. Bob Dixon
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    All of us need cash now.Hmrc have our bank details.The government grants and other cash help needs to happen no later than 01/04/2020.

    • jerry
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      @Bob Dixon; Indeed. They also know who had registered as newly self employed before the beginning of March as all legitimate claimants for this this help package will have been given a UTR, all the HMRC needs to do is to ask those in their first year to complete a SAR, immediately post 5th April 2020, even if only trading for a month.

      Yes payments would have to be extrapolated but the fraud risk would be very low given the HMRC ability to claw back over an extended period going back years in some cases. Who would risk not only such claw backs, fines, public shaming and perhaps even imprisonment!

      Seems to me that HMT/HMRC are making this situation overly complex, the question is why. Might they be hedging their bets that by June the restrictions will have been lifted, with the vast majority of SE back at work & working all hours they will simply not bother to apply. After all it matters not one jot to HMT if people have gone into debt or have had to wind-up and seek PAYE status, the latter would actually help help the HMRC I suspect.

  8. Bob Dixon
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    My client is owed £20k on his last vat return.Hmrc are with holding subject to checking the detailed vat return submitted.Yes it is exceptional to his business.The invoices are straight forward.
    The inspector was unavailable but the case was picked by another inspector.The detailed Vat return was sent recorded delivery and track and trace showed a signed delivery.Emails and phone calls remain unanswered.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    After Boris and Prince Charles catch the virus Michael Gove tells us it shows that “the virus does not discriminate”.

    But of course it does discriminate hugely – against men, against the elderly, against those with certain pre-existing medical conditions, those who smoke and it seems against those have have blood group A.

    • APL
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “against those have have blood group A.”

      Whoo Hoo, maybe I can claim a handout, too.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      So similar to influenza flu in many respects, just a different strain

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        No. It is not. It is from a completely different family of viruses.

    • BOF
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Mr Gove never was a reliable source of information.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      The virus also discriminates on those with poor hygiene. So Boris, was the guidance inadequate or did you just fail to follow it? I suspect both.

  10. Kevin
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    P.S., Mr. Sunak,

    People who were employed or self-employed and deferred spending some of their hard-earned wages in order to meet the later commitments of old age, ill-health etc. have apparently been considered to have committed “a crime against economic growth” by saving instead of spending immediately and imprudently. They will have, from 1st May, access to a mere 0.7% on National Savings Income Bonds. I suspect that this recent “slashing” of National Savings’ interest rates may begin to bite quite soon, as will the Bank of England base rate of 0.1%. How is this just?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Going by the logic of our host today, he should be campaigning to increase the 0.7% to what it was before Coronavirus…

  11. Mark B
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Good morning, and thank you Sir John.

    As the virus spreads and colleagues of our kind host have had to go in to self isolation, I would like to wish our kind host, his family and staff all the best. Whilst I am still of the opinion that we have turned a drama into a crisis, complete with mass hysteria, selfishness and greed, I do feel for those that are most at risk as this cannot be a pleasant time hearing about all the deaths elsewhere. But ‘we’ had decided to destroy all our tomorrows for what ?

    But hey, the Sun is still shining over the trees as I look out my window typing this. Chin up 🙂

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      “But ‘we’ had decided to destroy all our tomorrows for what ?”

      Well the NHS is hugely short of the capacity it needs (despite having over two months notice and pandemic plans and stores. So the reason is to prevent many tens of thousands of people from dying for want of decent medical care in a week or two. Surely to save this many lives it is worth it?

      Secondly it will not destroy ‘all our tomorrows’ at all. The economy will bounce back very well indeed especially if the government for once does some sensible things. It should halve the state sector, go for cheap energy, freedom of choice in education, healthcare …. cut the green crap, cancel HS2, simplify and cut taxes, have a bonfire of red tape, scrap the very many expensive and pointless degrees and universities.

      Simples. But is Boris up to it?

    • Pominoz
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Mark B,

      What a catastrophe! The economy crucified when a virus which is already extremely well spread (forget the actual statistics) is actually infecting an incredibly small proportion of people with most minimally affected.

      This really must be brought into perspective. No one wants unnecessary deaths, but those already extremely vulnerable through pre-existing medical conditions are likely to die with Covid 19, rather than because of it. The absolute disaster of almost total economic shutdown cannot be understated. Common sense needs to prevail. Get business back to normal now.

      • BOF
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Yes, Pominoz and Mark B, it is an appalling strategy, also accompanied by legislation (without a sunset clause) that any totalitarian state would be proud of.

        • Turboterrier
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          any totalitarian state would be proud of.

          But isn’t that what has set this whole terrible situation into motion in the first place?

          Is it not strange that the CCP have now “exonerated” Dr Weniang who warned about about the virus outbreak?
          Was he not accused of making false comments and inciting social order, then forced to recant his findings only to succumb at the age of 33 to the very disease he was warning about. Is this not a shameful attempt by the CCP to cover up and whitewash their image?

          In the Spanish daily El Pais last week Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa wrote a piece about the virus which was gaining ground in his country:
          “Nobody seems to be warning that none of this could have happened in the world if popular China were a free country and democratic rather than a dictatorship”.

          He then likened the virus outbreak to Russia’s Chernobyl disaster during the Soviet era. Have not both dictatorships censored and silenced information about the crises. Beijing’s only comment “irresponsible”.
          He has tried to warn “Western fools” not to believe in China, “the free market with a political dictatorship”, and that “what happened with the coronavirus should open the eyes of the blind”.

          The big risk now is that, instead of Chernobyl which led, in part, to Soviet Union’s downfall, China’s communist regime will enjoy new found credibility as it assists numerous countries within the infected areas, especially if, due to the coronavirus crisis, the American people in November fail to support the first president in the last 40 years who has openly challenged China.

          If the impact of coronavirus is the catalyst to the demolition of the western worlds power base and financial markets who is going to be better placed to walk in and take the most prestigious companies and financial institutions?

          Everything comes at a price but will it be a price worth paying?

          • turboterrier
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            Order should read disorder

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          I agree and the police are already over reacting all over the place.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      What mass hysteria? The public have accepted the position with commendable calmness.

      The fevered tone of comments on right-wing blogs is a poor guide to the public mood, as ever.

      • Pud
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        If you are asking “what mass hysteria?” the shops near you must be the only ones in the country not emptied by panic buyers and you can’t be listening to, watching or reading any news stories.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          That’s mainly stupidity, not hysteria.

          There’s a lot of it about.

          The referendum and recent election showed that.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            Again sneering at the democratic decision millions of decent people.
            Like Labour you still dont get it why others dont agree with you.
            For you it appears you only like democracy when the result goes your way.

      • ed2
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        I am living in a dystopian nightmare Andy, perhaps you are stuck in the ‘Westminster bubble’ or are lost in MSM fantasy land?

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      I must be missing something here, to date seasonal flu does and has done more harm than coronavirus so why are we still in lockdown

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Yes you are.

        You clearly don’t understand simple mathematics such as geometric progressions.

        Numbers of deaths are doubling every day and a half or so.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          34% increase in death each day so doubling every 2.4 days or 60 times more in two weeks at this rate. So circa 60,000 deaths and perhaps 100,000 fighting for just 6000 ventilators. Let us hope this (far too late) lock down measures do slow the rate significantly and the NHS copes – I do not think that they will. No sign of any real slowing as yet.

  12. Stred
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    What about the upper limit of £50k profit. How are these going to pay for borrowing, housing, premises rents, utility costs etc? How do they finance any staff who have to isolate?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Indeed they get nothing I understand yet employees earning more than that just get it capped. Why the difference?

      • graham1946
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Presumably because the govt say it is all too difficult and they need hard rules rather than a more complicated tapering system.

        I don’t see why it is so complicated at all. This should be done by HMRC who should be given the money, as they know everything about everyone and they have the banking facilities etc exactly the way they get paid. The banks should be nowhere near any of this as they are untrustworthy, have no morals, and have done away with most of their useful staff and premises so delay and dither is inevitable. Rishi started well, but has de-railed – I really thought he would be different. Anyone who has tried to reduce his tax bill by fiddling deserve to get nothing.

    • jerry
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      @Stred; The upper limit does appear some what contrived, those higher incomes do not necessarily come with low monthly outlays, I’m not saying that those over the £50k limit should be paid willy-nilly but surely some form of means test could be applied.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Mainly an attack on London’s self employed!

  13. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    The Chancellor is right to be concerned about fraud.

    Recent credible analysis estimates that it may cost the UK up to £193 billion every single year.

    That is around ten times our erstwhile European Union contributions and overseas aid combined.

    And that is but one category of crime.

    It seems to me that the public have had their attention focused on the wrong things entirely for a long time now in this country.

    • Christine
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Yes, massive fraud on up front Universal Credit payments that MPs insisted on introducing. When this is over an audit of bogus National Insurance numbers needs to be carried out.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        It’s in a great many sectors, for instance mis-selling of financial and insurance products, rip-off tradesmen charging for work that they have not done, false accounting by outsourced contractors to the public sector, internet banking, hacking, and spam frauds, inaccurate product descriptions, and so on.

        Sometimes the results are horrifyingly tragic too, as reportedly the case at Grenfell Tower.

  14. Richard1
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Good to see Labour MP Neil Coyle slamming Corbyn’s ridiculous assertion that the Coronavirus emergency measures vindicate Corbyn’s call during the election for state socialism. Of course the argument is nonsense. The emergency measures are an attempt at an equal and opposite reaction to the economic effect of all the restrictions. And are as undesirable – but as necessary – as those restrictions given the health emergency.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Well, caricatures are always nonsense, that is the point of them – to ridicule.

      However, let’s consider the other end of the spectrum, where literally nothing is allowed to be done without someone’s making a profit out of it.

      Ordinary family life would be impossible, with members requiring payment for driving children to school, for caring for poorly relatives, or for cooking meals for instance.

      Now there’s a balance to be struck, between the extent to which society does things analogously as a family would – because they are intrinsically good things to do – and that to which it does things for other reasons, say, to cater for individual tastes, interests and preferences etc.

      The conversation about that balance has been railroaded by our media for decades now, and this emergency makes that as plain as day.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Indeed complete nonsense. Corbyn & Mc Donnall would have given us a Venezuelan economic disaster in very short order indeed. Even without this appalling virus.

      Max Hasting seem to have gone rather more potty too with his our “generation have had it too good and are a burden on the next agenda“ – in his recent articles and interviews.

      • hefner
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        I listened to Max Hasting on Radio 4 two days ago and I found he was making a lot of sense. If because of limited facilities to look after acutely COVID-2 infected patients, a choice is to be made by the doctors between a retired non-active patient and a below-retirement age one, he simply stated what is obvious to me. Let the old ones die and save the younger ones.
        In traditional societies over the centuries, more recently within the Inuits, it was understood by the group that the old people among them were more likely to be dispensable.
        There was a time where it was said that the old were carrying knowledge and wisdom. Is it still true today? I doubt it.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Speak for yourself.

          • hefner
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            That’s exactly what I said: ‘I found he as making a lot of sense’. I do not force (how could I) anybody to take my views as being the Scriptures.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Well that’s nice then Hefner.
            Modestly stated for once.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          That bit I agree with but the economic damage is worth it to ensure far thousands more survive.

          What was drivel was all the “his generation have had it too good and stolen their children’s future and should just go always and die drivel” and the doom about the economic damage done …. the economy will bounce back just fine in no time at all. I had to work two days at the bakery just to buy an LP and paid a fortune just to call my girlfriend from a call box after 6.00 PM after queuing for 20 minutes.

          Now they almost everything on £50 phone or tablet for nothing.

          Mankind has never had it so good.

          Read the Rational Optimist or similar.

  15. agricola
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Absolutely right John, I hope he takes what you say on board. In many cases he is dealing with the seed corn of the UKs industrial future. If that is destroyed through oversight , what do we have left.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Correct, this situation is self-induced and of great harm to the economy, many SMEs and Self Employed will think twice before continuing to trade after this lockdown.

      The only real safe haven is to become a public servant

  16. J Bush
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    ” I do not agree with you about the possible need to tax the self employed more when this is over. Self-employed do not get the same benefits as employed.”

    I totally agree with you. Why should self employed be forced out of business, or into liquidation because that is what will happen.

    That said, the government need to recognize the difference between those who are genuinely self employed and those who claim to be. The latter should be fined heavily, named and shamed for their fraudulent claims.

      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      They will be forced out of business because they can be. There’s no political harm in doing so. Self employed people aren’t represented by the Guardian and the BBC. The BBC is only concerned in representing their colleagues in the NHS. That means pressuring Johnson to up financing for the entire public sector ad infinitum. It’s party time 24/7 for the BBC and those who are funded in the same way

      And Johnson? He’s just another patsy bending to the will of the London based leftist media.

      We need to replace Labour with the Brexit Party. That really would put a rocket up the battledress of the Tory party.

      Can you imagine a real Tory party in the Commons, replace Labour in opposition?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      One of the reasons for more self employment is absurdly restrictive employment laws that pushes so many liabilities onto employers it become unattractive. Get rid of these rules and go to easy hire and fire. It is better for all in the end other than some useless, incompetent and lazy employees. It is not very fair to expect the good employees to work with and carry these people. Nor to expect (for example) children to be taught by them or even people to be operated on by them.

      Why should people not chose to be self employed if they wish too be so long as they are filing their returns and paying the taxes legally due?

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        fully agree

    • jerry
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      @J Bush; No, the companies these faux self employed work for, often without choice (other than to find alternate PAYE employment) should be fined heavily, named and shamed for their fraudulent tax affairs – not those who may welll have been driven down a road not of their choosing.

      • J Bush
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink


        I thinking more of one man businesses, such as plumbers, joiners, electricians, painter & decorators, car mechanics etc.

        They are essential in the more rural areas, where big business are not interested because of the travel factor, or are cost prohibitive because of it.

  17. Dave
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I’d like to send a letter to every member of parliament.
    Dear Sir or Madam
    Thank you for shutting down the economy on the basis of a panic. You have no reliable figures as to how many people actually have the virus and therefore no clue as to the actual mortality rate. You have no evidence that the people alleged to have died of the virus actually did as virtually no post mortems are done. Even if all the alleged victims did actually die of the virus rather than with the virus the numbers do not match an average year of flu and other respiratory related deaths. Instead you use the most draconian measures ever applied in the history of the United Kingdom based on similar ridiculous computer models as those used for the climate panic.
    You and all the hystirical media half wits bear the responsibilty of destruction of freedom, huge economic hardships and quite possibly ongoing shortages with even worse consequences for lives for many years to come.
    You have failed the people of this country in the worst possible way.

  18. Alan Jutson
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    You make the perfect point that those who have complied and completed a tax return on time and done the right thing, are now being penalised by delay of any payment, because a few people have not.

    Those who have not completed and made their returns, for whatever reason, made that decision before the virus took hold.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      You have to question why after 12 months have already lapsed their returns have still not been submitted.

      Self Employed implies 1 person on their own – if they aren’t sure of the money in money out up until April 2019, by the end of that year you have to question are they in the right job.

  19. Pray!
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I worked briefly in a hospital many years ago. I have had many friends relatively recently in the NHS quite highly placed doctors, nurses, X-Ray people..the whole geography . Off duty, they are as lacking in hygiene as any of us. They are not at work! They clock off.From the box.
    So, comprehensive testing is a must , in my opinion., all my opinions.
    On ward Carry On Doctor is not an entirely false representation. They are like rabbits 🙂

  20. D Note
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    If you cannot see the supermarkets are in on this with the MSM to destroy small business you all must be blind?

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm I have my suspicions on this too, small retail shops are finding it difficult to get supplies like soap, toilet rolls and antiseptic wipes and gel for mobile workers we’ve made 4 visits to local shops we don’t want to keep going out to the same small local main store offshoot shops.

      There is some strange closures too why did Boots have to shut for everything other than pre-booked pharmacy, we need soap, shampoo, conditioner, paracetamol, and other none prescription buys.

      I dislike most of the main supermarkets for the fact they put local butchers, bakers, tv shops and other independents out of business, then they started taking florists businesses now they’ve started to close down their instore bakers and butchers and we’re left with the choice of pre-packed tasteless water filled and imported meat after the local butchers closed down.

  21. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Interest rates have been cut. My income has fallen. I anticipate this will extend to company dividends being cut, pensions being reduced. I demand compensation. Why should I suffer while others benefit.

    Look out for future demands for everyone to get monthly money for nothing. Why not?

    We will never get back to individualism and self reliance. All power and our freedoms will be taken from us permanently and the green zealots will demand even more influence which will be gladly given.

    Socialism is here to stay. Bankruptcy awaits with all that brings for the people. Austerity? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      So why should not those companies whose livelihoods are being destroyed by exit from the European Union also demand compensation?

      A fortiori, since that is being done in a way for no reason other than political vanity and arrogance, not through necessity at all.

      • Fred H
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the Latin. I had to look it up. Then I looked up vanity….

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          Don’t mention it, Fred!

        • hefner
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          FredH, You should not complain, this site allows you to further your education.

          • Fred H
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            I wasn’t complaining. Not so much education, more humour.

    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The London-centric Tory party despise those very people who have always voted for it. The London-centric Labour party despise the very people who have always voted for it. These two parties need each other and want each other. They maintain the Parliamentary status quo.

    Johnson is targeting those who cannot fight back. His lock-down decision was a political one not a medical one. His only concern is protecting his party from political harm by a critical media and the well organised Labour-controlled public sector mafia

    His NHS obsession is purely political. He knows if he doesn’t pray at the altar of the new religion he’ll be smashed in the press by the vested interest that now infects our entire public sector.

    And the self-employed. Well, they can’t fight back, politically, in the corridors of power in Whitehall. They have zero representation. You won’t find Len McCluskey meeting Whitehall staff to protect the interests of your average plumber and plasterer

    And so this government will give help to those first who represent the biggest political threat. The public sector, massive tick. at the bottom of the pile, the small self-employed.

    Both parties are now nothing more than established political vehicles for careerists and extremists (Labour). Look at this Chancellor. He’s gone from fiscal conservative to a psychotic Keynesian in under a few months. It’s this level of shameless hypocrisy that is utterly nauseating to watch

    It’s all about politics not humanitarianism or compassion.

    And please less of the propaganda about who’s been infected and who hasn’t. We’re not naive and we know when we’re being ‘played’

  23. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    This is misguided.

    1. Dividends are paid as investment returns, and can’t expect to be treated as earned income. NI isn’t paid on them. Would you like to lobby to have my reduced dividends from quoted companies (my main source of income) replaced by the government please?

    2. Anybody giving up a full-time job to go self employed takes a risk. As for people starting a company, they might be paying themselves next to nothing for the first months/year as money is put into building up the company. If you really want to help, take the average earnings of the 3 years prior to going self employed as a more accurate guide.

  24. Andy
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    We all know self-employed people who play the system.

    The decorator who does every other job cash in hand.

    The cabbie who expenses miles which aren’t for work purposes.

    The self employed hairdresser who only ever works in one salon.

    The list goes on.

    There are some legitimately self-employed people. But many are employees with no rights.

    And others cheat the system.

    It is absolutely right that these tax avoiders are tackled in the same manner that the offshore billionaire Tory donor tax avoiders are.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      If you really know anyone breaking the law then report them to HMRC.
      Just more made up slurs against another group of people you have taken a dislike to.

      • Andy
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        I’m self employed. My wife is self employed.

        We play by the rules and pay a lot of tax.

        I am simply pointing out, correctly, that we all know self employed people who don’t.

        And we all know ‘self employed’ people who are not really self employed.

        And I do not doubt that the contributors here on this site have paid cash in hand for things in the past. Maybe not often. But I bet every single one of you has.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          Well report them to HMRC if you know loads.
          You seem to deal with lots of odd people.

          I meet a lot of decent honest hard working self employed people.
          And they have their accounts scrutinised by both their chartered accountant and HMRC

          • Edward2
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            The fact you decide to pay cash doesn’t automatically mean the trader will not put that cash through their accounts.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

            Traders quite often request cash.

            The decision is largely made for the customer, and not by him, then.

            There may be a number of reasons for that request, one of which would be to keep it off the books.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 29, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            And many customers offer cash.
            Sometimes in an attempt to get a reduction in the price.
            Sometimes because it is the customer who has cash to dispose of.
            Sometimes because the trader will not accept a cheque because of worries that it might bounce.
            Sometimes because the trader doesn’t have the ability to accept credit or debit cards.

        • APL
          Posted March 29, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          Andy: “I am simply pointing out, correctly, that we all know self employed people who don’t.”

          If you know an offence has been committed, yet you refuse to inform the authorities, you have just made yourself an accomplice to the offence.

  25. James Bertram
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Off- topic but Coronavirus related:
    Yesterday the BBC was reporting that the virus, if uncontrolled would lead to 40 million deaths worldwide. However, if controlled by currently adopted measures, this would lead to only 1.3 million deaths worldwide.
    What they have not reported is that there have only been 28,000 deaths worldwide so far.
    Nor did they report this:
    ‘Status of COVID-19
    As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.
    The 4 nations public health HCID group made an interim recommendation in January 2020 to classify COVID-19 as an HCID. This was based on consideration of the UK HCID criteria about the virus and the disease with information available during the early stages of the outbreak. Now that more is known about COVID-19, the public health bodies in the UK have reviewed the most up to date information about COVID-19 against the UK HCID criteria. They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about mortality rates (low overall), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.
    The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) is also of the opinion that COVID-19 should no longer be classified as an HCID.’

    • ed2
      Posted March 29, 2020 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      The MSM will be disbanded after this.

      • APL
        Posted March 29, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        ed2: “The MSM will be disbanded after this.”

        Why? The government has worked hand in glove with the BBC and the rest of the media, spread panic. Then take advantage of the population’s fear to introduce house arrest and the most swinging restrictions on individuals since Bloody Mary.

  26. None of the above
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,
    I broadly agree with your letter to the Chancellor but I would support a significant change in how we should tax income. Of course it will be necessary to use taxation to claw back the public money used to support people and the economy but that tax burden should be more evenly spread. I believe it would be right to abolish NI and increase income tax to compensate. I realise this would mean that Pensioners would pay more than they do now and some people might say that we have contributed enough during our working lives.
    But it is niw obvious, if it wasn’t before, that we older folk make up a significant proportion of the pressure health and social services and I think that those of us who have income greater than the State Pension should contribute a little more. Given that NI is also a tax on employment I ask that this proposal should be given careful consideration.

  27. Polly
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Despite coronavirus panic, there is no significant worsening in the British death statistics from the ONS up to March 13.

    In fact, week 11 is down compared to the 5 year average for the same week.

    The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 13 March 2020 (week 11) was 11,019; this represents an increase of 124 deaths registered in comparison with the previous week (week 10). The average number of deaths for the corresponding week over the previous five years was 11,205.

    The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in February 2020 was 43,653; this represents a decrease of 13,053 deaths in comparison with the previous month and a decrease of 2,143 deaths in comparison with the same month in 2019.


    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      No answer to that is there? The NHS is now so incompetent that it does not even know if there is a medical emergency. My relation, an NHS manager in the south east, is unquestioning and exhausted and unthinking. I think she represents the NHS exactly.

      • APL
        Posted March 29, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Let’s wait and see, we get about 20,000 deaths per year from influenza and nobody bats an eyelid.

        The question that interests me, is; will the deaths from Covid-19 be as well as, or instead of the deaths we’d normally expect from influenza?

        It seems to be attacking largely the same demographic as influenza would normally carry off.

        By the way, yes I’m at the lower age range of the vulnerable group.

  28. Roger Phillips
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    Well done for addressing this, 3 months is impossible for some to manage with no income. Could please also raise the issue of PAYE employees not qualifying due to a small time window. I left a previous employer on the 20th of Feb and started with new company on the 4th of March, we have no been informed that we do not qualify for furlough because we would have had to have been PAYE on the 28th of Feb. This is ludicrous when the lock down wasn’t actually even announced in Feb. This directly effects 18 people with our company and no doubt many thousands of others UK wide. Why leave such gaping holes when HMRC can clearly see we have paid tax in the month of Feb?

  29. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I saw a large queue of many people with supermarket trollies – all standing about 20 feet apart – snaking around the supermarket car park. One customer out and another one allowed in. A sunny ( but only 9C ) day. How are older people supposed to stand out in that for what could be over an hour? What happens when it is a really cold, rainy or windy day? Do they all go home and turn up en-masse on another day? along with that day’s shoppers? to form an even longer queue?

    also – I got a text from my chiropodist to say they were closed for the foreseeable future because of the C-word. Treating elderly people’s toenails they are a lifeline. Toenails don’t stop growing. Ingrown ones won’t take long to develop, infections to start – then what? Do we turn up at the NHS?

    PS – the scroll bar on the typing box isn’t working again.

    PS – the scroll bar

  30. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Test kits. Yesterday at the press conference a journalist asked if any of the 3.5 million allegedly ordered had been manufactured, by whom and where. The answer was dodged. No facts given. The same sort of dodging we got on the number of ventilators previously from Hancock and I think the PM. How many in addition to the claimed 5000 he claims we’ve got have been received and distributed? No facts given.

    Obfuscation on a deadly scale.

    • zorro
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that the test kits are a bit of a red herring as they probably cannot specifically confirm if you have the specific strain of the virus or not. Nearly all ous have a strain of a corona type virus in our system because we will have had a tpe of corona illness before.


      • hefner
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Have you got SARS or MERS previously? Otherwise you might be rich in noroviruses, various strands of influenza viruses, called HxNy with x getting values from 1 to 10 and y from 1 to 9 aka influenza A, B, C and D, but you will not have had a coronavirus.
        Maybe you should get the proper SARS-CoV-2 to add to your collection.

        • Zorro
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          I’ve had it already if the symptoms are anything to go by at the end of last year. I had been in the Far East on an extensive travel holiday.


    • zorro
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Remember this is a political/economic takedown in essence.


    • Christine
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      A UK company in Belfast is making test kits. It says on their website that they aren’t allowed to export abroad or sell to any none NHS or health care organisations. I don’t know about the other suppliers. Let’s hope we haven’t ordered any of the dodgy Chinese kits that Italy and Spain are complaining about.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Though I agree that antibody test for all are important and also welcome the antigen tests that are being ramped up for NHS staff, I think the big number is being used as a distraction. PHE need to be doing an antibody test to determine background prevalence to inform choice between models. Even a random sample of 100 to 1000 in hotspots of e.g. Southwark/Lambeth and Wolverhampton would inform models and model choice. It doesn’t need to be a convenient/easy test it just needs to be implementable with reasonable sensitivity and specificity – if these are known the point and interval estimates can be adjusted. Journalists shoild be asking Govt everyday when we will know background prevalence.

  31. a-tracy
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your clear letter, I hadn’t realised there were so many different tax / worker schemes, umbrella payments, contractor but paye but not an employee etc. I know a newly self-employed after graduation who had order books cancelled and no reserves for rent/bills and when they applied for UC they said because their partner had savings (their tax and ni and wedding venue final payment) they weren’t entitled to anything – I hadn’t realised actually been good and putting up savings for things stopped any entitlement to benefits but people who spend everything get the most help – now I know why the saving culture imbedded into me by my father is no longer sensible.

    Why have we got Martin Lewis explaining to people what furlough is and how it works? Is he now an employee of the State? Surely it is for the Government Minister and his team to get out the message of what the government is doing precisely in relation to furlough, self-employed furlough, universal credit payments for those falling between the schemes to all forms of media including twitter, Facebook etc.

    Mr Lewis in the Daily Mail today says ask your employer to furlough you if you have to stay home to look after your children for three months it won’t cost them anything and the employer should do it – well this is debateable, the employer (many of whom) aren’t operational since Monday need to amend your contract of employment to include furlough and will have to use loans for this in-advance payment and if they don’t make it through the lockdown period they would then take on the entire business loss personally, banks are asking for extra security.

    I read on Friday the shortest furlough period is three weeks, businesses need this clarifying asap by the Minister in charge of this scheme, not by Martin Lewis and his understanding! Some businesses are operational in essential services but work dips off and comes on in bursts, unlike normal operations, I.e. 100 jobs one day, 10 the next, some staff may have little work, I was hoping to share the lay-off out fairly week about but with this scheme I can’t, some of the poor staff will have to work full time for the next three weeks and other (long straw) get to stay home safe, then if I recall them because of a busy period we lose the ability to get the furlough back. Business is down, we are trying to share work out fairly paying in full for hours people aren’t working but a lack of clarity doesn’t help to plan for the next couple of weeks.

    By the way how do you choose which employees have to work and which get to stay home, some children have both parents working and one could work if there is essential work for them.

    We were also advised when we asked our accountant, the iod etc for advice that we had to get the employees authority to amend their contract in relation to furlough before we put it into being or you can be challenged for breach of contract and full pay afterwards, how many businesses are aware of that? very few I’d guess, it’s not ok just to let this drift.

  32. ukretired123
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I cannot believe how crass and deluded the plans to tax the self-employed who are the bedrock of self-reliance and set an example for others to emulate.

    As I have commented on only yesterday Lady Thatcher understood SMEs and cash in your pocket. She is known in France MSM/TV as “Madam I want my money back” a complement in Britain now only decades later understood by the whole of the wasteful EU!

    The Treasury think SMEs are all spivs or drug dealers and using the emotional word Profits is an insult too far!

    Many extremely capable and gifted folks are self-employed and have the guts to decide to metaphorically swim against the tide in the shark invested waters of bureaucracy and tax obstacles because they can be more productive providing solutions to real problems.

    Words fail me and I just thank God I am retired.
    A brain drain of common sense in the Treasury will light the fuse of a new brain drain of SMEs abroad!

    Unbelievable !x

    • zorro
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      This is not a Conservative government, it acts as an authoritarian socialist government!!


      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        We had a Conservative interlude with Thatcher. Short lived and 30 years ago now! Very few would recognize Conservatism if it punched them in the face. Our host excluded, obviously.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      No SME’s, equals no big corporates, no enterprise.

      Lost on the big Government project is big business only exist after buying their enterprising would be competition out.

      The Mobile phone as we know it in the World, only exists from the enterprise, imitative and tenacity of the small guy form the UK. No big conglomerate could have achieved the same in the same time scale at the same price.

      The UK disrupts the real engine of society at its peril.

      • hefner
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        What is the name of ‘the small guy from the UK’?
        It might be necessary to revise Wikipedia’s ‘The History of Mobile Phones’.

        • Ian @Barkham
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          A collection of small freelancers(actually 13 guys) in a group called ARM produced the reduced instruction set chip that made the phone as we know it possible.

          Otherwise you would still be carrying a house brick

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      The term “Puppet Government” has been bandied around for years.
      Now we experience exactly what it means.
      “Government” by those who only know how to virtue signal when what we need is a govt. of rational thinkers.
      On the other hand …it seems to have long been the agenda to hand work over to big companies. Hence expensive regulation requirements. So using a crisis for more of the same maybe?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Trying to avoid half a million filled coffins in just a few weeks is a little more than “virtue signalling”.

        Yet you hyperventilate over the colour of your passport, or over the absence of tungsten lightbulbs.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

          Ha…yes..well I see which particular battle YOU are still fighting! ( You lost!).
          Talk about showing true colours.
          In 2018, there were 541,589 deaths registered in England and Wales, 1,480 per day!! Were we on lockdown then??

          Why are you trying to alarm people?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            Watch what happens over the next few days and weeks to that rate.

            I am not fighting any battle over the European Union, the UK has left, and that, clearly now, will be a good thing for the other twenty-seven nations.

            However, your ideas as to what matters and what does not are rather curious, for someone who claims to be a patriot, I think.

  33. Caterpillar
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink


    Whilst the Govt continues with its delicate balance between saving and destroying the economy I would like to be sure that its epidemiological response is taking into account S and L variants . Does anyone know where the Govt data at this level is (the public cases and death numbers do not give this identification)? In simple terms, for example only, if the S variant is more asymptomatic less deadly than the L variants, but offers partial resistance, then blanket lockdown appears very blunt – you’d want the S to spread and the L to not, you’d hope your country was infected early with one and not the other. I appreciate the strains work is in its early weeks but has the Govt said anything about identification of variants in the UK cases and deaths? (We obviously read proxy / correlates suggesting UK, Spain, Italy may have got L type epidemic before S type but is there actual data, is the effect real and if so not just for economic reasons then policy needs to be less blunt).

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      This is a pandemic not an epidemic

    • zorro
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      I suspect that you will just get the ONS official stats in a few months time. At least the Italian Health Ministry published some recently. What advantage do you think will be taken through the new legislation of only one doctor certifying for mental health internment, and funeral directors being able to put down the cause of death as COVID 19 without an inquest?


      • Caterpillar
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        I have no idea whether loss of data will be intentional or accidental but either way it is worrying.

  34. Martin
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    ” Self-employed do not get the same benefits as employed”

    Are you referring to DWP benefits? If so which ?

    Contribution based JSA has been hacked back over the years. I Think it now about £70 for six months.

    All other benefits are available to all subject to means and age tests.

  35. ed2
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Can I make one last appeal for sanity sake?

    Yes, a new strain of Coronavirus appears every year, it makes upto 15% of the seasonal flu virus each year. Only this year they started testing for the first time in hospitals and decided to make a big drama out of it. All this was told to me by a virus professor (who cannot get his voice heard on the MSM). Even the test kits they used were rushed out due to the political panic and were not peer-reviewed.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I’d like to know more, as your virus professor has been trying to get MSM air time, I’m sure you’ll have no prolem supplying his name

    • forthurst
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Coronaviruses don’t cause flu.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Coronaviruses in humans cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS.
        With COVID19 we are talking about an unknown unknown and the govt is overstepping the mark.
        The virus was downgraded to no longer being an HCID on March 19th yet the govt is going ahead with draconian legislation…” Emergency plan to strengthen Coronavirus (Covid19) response plans.”
        Responsible MPs should be very worried.

        • forthurst
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure the department of Health discussed the disease classification long and hard, after taking a breather from setting up a Covid-19 Expert Group and a Command and Control Centre for organising testing, tracing and isolating. Covid-19 s not as lethal as Mers or Sars but it does appear highly transmisable, presumably because the viral load obtained from inhaling aerosols to trigger an infection is low and because of the prevalence of more or less asymptomatic cases who also exhale aerosols. Mortality to date 30k+; Sars 774.

      • hefner
        Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        So who is mixing up the information, ed2 or the virus professor? I hope it is ed2. Otherwise the MSM might have been right not to listen to this virus professor.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          Try reading it up? Look at WHO advice…look at Public Health England…plenty of info.

        • glen cullen
          Posted March 28, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          do we have the virus professors name yet?

  36. ed2
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Can we roll back to the clock to the early Conservative Party days when people atleast PRETENDED not to be communists? Surely JR remembers those days he is even older thank me? What has happened?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      They were infiltrated by the left.
      Very dangerous = liblabcon and probably kip.
      See how they spared no pains in destroying the right.
      Now in the popular mind there is nothing more terrifying than the epithet “Right wing”.
      A recalibration of morality!

  37. ed2
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Were all the small govt anti communist Conservatives of 30 years ago all pretending?

  38. BOF
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    ‘I do not agree with you about the possible need to tax the self employed more when this is over. Self-employed do not get the same benefits as employed.’

    I agree Sir John. Instead their is a desperate need to reduce the size of the state to reduce the burden on the taxpayer. However, we should expect the opposite from the left leaning Conservative government.

  39. Polly
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Why did Prime Minister Johnson and his officials ignore the important new research into the possible link between ACE/ARB medications and C-19 when it was published on February 28, and why are they still ignoring it ?

    Why were those individuals in the risk groups not strongly advised to isolate from February 28 as a precautionary measure, and why are they still not being advised to take additional care to isolate ?


  40. D Note
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Boris has caught a cold and is self isolating or Boris is pretending to have it like all those other weirdo politicians world wide? Which is it?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I hardly think he would pretend to have it! It would not look very good if it got out and what advantage would it be anyway?

      Some actors, self publicists and celebs might pretend – just to get in the papers I suppose.

  41. JoolsB
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    John, in these extreme circumstances, I don’t understand why the self employed are being made to jump through hoops instead of being treated the same as everyone else. The Government is using taxpayers’ money to guarantee 100% of salaries to public sector workers many of whom just to stay at home, 80% to employers for employees salaries irrespective of how long the employer has been going or how long the employee has worked for them and is giving cash grants to small and big business irrespective of their turnover or again how long they have been running. Why can’t cash grants be given to the self employed as well? Why are they the only ones who have to have been going for three years in order to apply in JUNE, more than two months away, just to receive 3/12s of 80% of their average income for the last three years? I only got started three years ago and struggled to make a profit in year 1 so that will bring anything I might receive come tumbling down. The self employed pay their taxes and yet they alone are being treated shabbily compared to everyone else.

      Posted March 28, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      You have zero political power expressed through a powerful, well connected union and therefore will be treated with utter contempt.

      The Tories since they downed Thatcher now pander to the Mcluskey’s and his ilk of this world. It’s called unprincipled politics

      of course, you’ll still be expected to pick up the cost of the bottomless pit that is Labour’s public sector and then stand outside like a citizen from North Korea clapping like a seal

      Just wait until they abolish cash, that really will see the self-employed suddenly collapse en masse

  42. Mark
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    What an excellent letter. Many will thank you for your efforts on their behalf. I am not among those affected by this at the moment, but I was a one man band for a couple of years, so I know what this will mean.

  43. Iago
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    The Chancellor’s freedom of action is severely limited by the so-called Withdrawal Treaty –

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Ditch it! Withdraw.

  44. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    On this subject I have just heard a horror story. The manageress of my local filling station and her husband accepted an offer to manage an outlet for Greggs. Both resigned their jobs. Greggs sent a letter of appointment but have since said that this facility will not open because of the measures to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. Greggs say that because the couple had not signed a contract (they hadn’t had the opportunity), their appointment is null and void and Greggs don’t owe them a penny.

    What do people make of that?

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 29, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      They should have signed their contract.

      There are going to be lots of people laid off, last in first out?

      Things will not be the same, only an approximation of normality.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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