Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:10 pm on 8th March 2017.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham East 3:10 pm, 8th March 2017

That is exactly right.

The self-employed do not have the same security, which is why we have had the discrepancy in the levels of taxation historically. Nearly half of those who are self-employed in the UK are on low pay, compared with a fifth of those in employment. Social Market Foundation research suggests that 1.7 million self-employed people earn less than the national living wage, yet the Government’s new universal credit rules will cap self-employed recipients on the assumption that they receive the living wage over a standard working week, which is not necessarily the case in seasonal work and elsewhere.

The self-employed, who work longer despite earning less, and twice as many of whom work 50 hours each week than those in employment, will be paying a significant price. If they take home £27,000 of profit, they will be hit by an extra £30 a month because of this decision. I say to my hon. Friends that another change that the Chancellor announced—cutting the dividend allowance to just £2,000—is also a hit on the self-employed because the dividend allowance is part of how they derive their income.

It is a double whammy for the self-employed, who are hit by a broken promise from the Conservatives—they said they would not increase national insurance and they are doing so—and hit again by the cut in the dividend allowance. That will harm those running small businesses by really hitting their incomes and devalue the trust that should exist in politics. When politicians make a promise, they ought to be able to keep it. This erodes the trust that people have in the words of Ministers. I say on behalf of my 5,100 self-employed constituents in Nottingham East and the 5 million self-employed people nationwide, they will not forget this betrayal.