Having just got my head around the government’s latest budget, and trying to work out how it will affect my disabled girlfriend (summary: income reduced, and outgoings increased), I’ve just got in to a lovely letter from HMRC. A threatening letter, in this government’s usual condescending tone. Here, take a look yourself.
So, let’s go through those key points, shall we?
My self-employment needs to be done on a commercial basis, with a view to making a profit
Oh, silly me! Here I was deliberately trying to lose money that I don’t have, to make my life even more difficult.
My self-employment needs to be done regularly and in an organised way
Fair enough. Well, that is, if I trusted this government to define what “regularly and organised way” means. I take it that the inspectors will fully understand the showbiz industry, will they? They’ll know that there’s no such thing as consistent work? They’ll understand that 95% of actors are unemployed at any one time? They’ll understand that you could make one year’s salary in one day, or no salary at all for several years, for reasons out of your control?
And what does “organised” mean? I spread myself across as many business types as I can just so that I can make ends meet. Will the government inspector view that as disorganised? I strongly suspect so, because as usual, this is another exercise to take money from the people that need it the most.
I may not qualify if I don’t make a profit
Brilliant. So instead of going after Google and Amazon, they’d rather take a few hundred quid off a sole trader who is struggling to make a profit. Someone that spends that lavish income on luxuries like food and toiletries. With no knowledge of their background, their endeavours, or the intricacies of any given market.
They may want to inspect my business records
Again, fair enough – come and have a look. But why are you wasting tax-payers resources in pursuit of a few hundred quid (which you won’t get, by the way, because I’ve nothing to hide) when THERE ARE BUSINESSES OUT THERE THAT OWE BILLIONS IN TAXES?
You know what? Don’t even answer that.
Why am I so upset? Well, let’s look at my current financial situation – laid bare:
Income: Part-time monthly salary- £470 approx
Self-employment for 2015-16 – total £1400 so far – approx £116 pcm on average (skewed by the fact that £700 of that came from October alone)
Expenditure: Rent+bills, car tax, savings (£10pcm!), phone bill, credit card repayment, car insurance, computer finance, WWE Network – total £610 approx.
TOTAL: A loss of £24. You may notice that apart from the WWE Network (at £9.99pcm) there are no luxuries in there. Even if you were to remove my car costs, I would spend twice that amount on public transport in a month.
You’ll see then, that my working tax credit covers my living costs and nothing else.
Oh, and by the way, in managing a social enterprise, a community website and a community festival, on top of part-time employment and pursuing paid acting work, I generally work at least 60 hours per week.
Now my business decisions lie in the hands of a government that doesn’t understand community enterprise. A government that could decide that I haven’t made enough profit for their liking. A government that only sees the word PROFIT in front of their eyes when they make decisions with community services. A government of multi-millionaires that don’t understand that you can start a business with no money, but to compensate you have to give it extra TIME.
The biggest irony is that if I stopped my claim and closed my businesses, I could then be forced to do “community work” while claiming JSA.
Now this alone I could stomach if they weren’t hitting my girlfriend doubly-hard at the same time.
My partner has MS and is unable to work. In today’s budget, another raft of cuts to disability benefits were announced. At the same time, her entitlement to housing benefit and council tax reduction were being reviewed by the Labour council. It’s likely that not only will her income be reduced, but the small amount she receives to help manage her condition will now have to be spent on additional costs forced on her by local government – namely making up the shortfall in housing benefit, and council tax reduction.
And this all on the same day that Gideon announced MORE tax cuts for higher rate tax-payers, and for companies that don’t pay what they owe anyway.
It’s easy to see that this government are coercing people to take their own lives. I’ve had too many conversations with vulnerable people recently that are in complete and utter despair because it doesn’t matter how hard they work, or how many hoops they jump through, this government is making their lives tougher by the minute.
No one that I have spoken to wants anything more than their basic human rights – the right to shelter, heat, food, and to live without persecution.
I live in one of the richest countries in the world. The rich are getting richer.
How are those struggling bankers doing?