The increase in national insurance will be “deeply damaging” to some independent creators, experts say.
With the Self-Employment Income Support (SEISS) program ending this month, a 9% to 10.5% increase for self-employed workers earning between £ 9,569 and £ 50,270 will cost up to £ 58 more per month.
Executives of independent public limited companies face a “double whammy” – a 1.25% higher rate as an employer and 1.25% higher on their profits – which could hamper the industry’s ability to recover and to innovate.
Up to a third of the creative industries workforce is self-employed. The eligibility criteria for SEISS mean that thousands of people have missed crucial support.
Freelancers also face an oversized tax bill in 2022/23 as HMRC shifts to a more frequent quarterly payment system.
Andy Chamberlain, director of policy for the Association of Independent Professionals and Self-Employed Workers, said rising taxes on dividends would make working through a limited liability company “nearly impossible”.
“While social care is of course crucial for the country, after the financial devastation of the pandemic, it is just not fair that hard-working and often struggling people – especially the bruised self-employed sector – pay for it.
“These changes will squeeze the community of battered self-employed, limited companies and independent traders.”
Shuang Man, chief operating officer at Accountants Ward Williams Creative, offers an alternative view, saying the increase was designed to apply to everyone equally.
“This increase is actually pretty universal – no matter what industry they work for, whether self-employed or self-employed, everyone is going to suffer.”
The man did not think that the increase in the tax burden would limit the recovery of the sector: “Yes, it’s a supplement for the employer but if you grow up, you have to hire people.”
When the pandemic hit, music booker Jack Hepplewhite was reduced from four to one.
The venue put him on PAYE and on leave – it was a lifeline, but it meant Hepplewhite was not eligible for SEISS and was only earning 20% of his regular income.
Rejected for three separate Arts Council England grants, he used a council grant to pay off some of the debt accumulated by his family of four over the past 18 months.
With universal credit on the verge of being cut as well, Hepplewhite said increasing national insurance represents “another uphill battle.”
“It’s either insensitive or it’s just crazy,” he told ArtsProfessional.
“They are putting enormous pressure on working people and people who have no money to spare and expect us to start this recovery for the UK.”
As job postings flood in, Hepplewhite said he doesn’t plan to work full-time until March.
“I’m being offered opportunities for November, but will that happen? And if so, who will come if the [Covid] are the rates going up? “
No big cats
The excluded UK, which represents workers cut off from Covid-19 income support, says the government has an inaccurate “big cat picture” of directors of limited companies.
A study by the Creative Industries Federation last year found that freelance earnings ranged from £ 18,000 to over £ 100,000 per year. However, industries such as advertising were more lucrative (£ 30,000-50,000 per year) than crafts, design or publishing, where people earned less than the National Living Wage.
Many self-employed people live off their savings and shouldn’t expect them to fund increased national insurance, according to the group.
They say Chancellor Rishi Sunak is working against his goal of creating “a nation of entrepreneurs”.
“We are already a nation of entrepreneurs, but thousands of them have been brought to their knees financially.
“Time and time again, political decisions show us that the Treasury is only interested in big business, but when there is a deficit to be filled, the ordinary worker must find the money to replenish the empty coffers. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. “