Rishi Sunak ignores small business and self-employed in Spending Review

Chancellor blanks calls for cut in national insurance to help businesses scarred by the pandemic and targeted support for excluded self-employed

Rishi Sunak has mostly ignored small business hit by the pandemic and the struggling self-employed in today’s Spending Review.

The chancellor shrugged off calls for him to cut national insurance and help those self-employed such as company directors who have found themselves excluded from government Covid support.

He did however freeze any increase in business rates when they kick back in again in April. The Treasury estimates that this move will save businesses £575m over the next five years.

Indeed, there was more help for the employee than the employer, as Mr Sunak increased the National Living Wage to £8.91 per hour for those aged over 23 and announced a Restart Scheme to help the newly unemployed.

Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors, welcomes the Restart Scheme but said the chancellor missed a trick by not combining the scheme with a cut to employers’ NI contributions.

>See also: Rishi Sunak urged to help self-employed company directors

Nigel Morris, employment tax director at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, said that Sunak failed to deliver for businesses.

Morris said: “More help for businesses is essential to protect our economy, yet we saw no major support made available for them, for example a cut in employers’ national insurance payments, or restoration of the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus for keeping on furloughed staff.”

“The increase in the National Living Wage is great news for employees … but this puts more pressure on stretched employers to fund wages and associated national insurance costs.”

Qdos, the insurance broker for the self-employed, said the Spending Review ignored a “golden opportunity” to fill the gaps in coronavirus financial support for those excluded so far.

Seb Maley, CEO of Qdos CEO, said: “The chancellor didn’t even acknowledge the gaps in the coronavirus support in his speech, despite mounting pressure to tailor the help available.”

“I find it remarkable that the government continues to ignore calls to provide millions of freelancers and small business owners with the support they clearly need.”

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.