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Budget to extend support lifeline for sole traders

Businesses hope soon to come out of hibernation (pic: Terry Murden)

Sole traders will be offered further help in the Budget after months warning they are living on a knife edge.

Those, including freelancers, with a 2019/20 tax return will be included in the next rounds of Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will also confirm in the Budget that the furlough job protection scheme and the VAT cut for hospitality firms will continue until September.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it was important not to “crush” any potential recovery as the country emerges from lockdown in the summer.

Business lobby groups said the announcements will be a great relief and allow companies to plan ahead.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) said the inclusion of in the fourth round of he SEISS of freelancers who filed their first tax return in 2019/20 will be a “tremendous relief” and also welcomed the announcement there will be a fifth round of SEISS. 

IPSE also hopes the Chancellor will other excluded groups such as sole directors of limited companies. 

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Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: “This announcement will bring hope to millions of business owners – small employer and sole trader alike.

“Giving firms the ability to furlough staff over a summer that we hope will bear the first green shoots of recovery will enable them to plan ahead.”

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The extension of the furlough scheme shows that the Chancellor has listened to our business communities.

“Many firms will be breathing a huge sigh of relief, particularly those businesses that are still closed or facing reduced demand due to Covid-19 restrictions.  

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“The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for companies all across the UK. This extension gives firms much more clarity on the way ahead, and will allow many to plan with greater optimism and confidence as they look to restart and rebuild over the coming months.”   

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist: “Quite simply, extending the scheme will keep millions more in work and give businesses the chance to catch their breath as we carefully exit lockdown. 

“The furlough scheme has been a stand-out success throughout the crisis. It’s common-sense to keep the scheme going while business resilience remains fragile for some months yet.

“As we make progress into the summer, it’s right that businesses start contributing a little more as revenues start to recover. Meanwhile it’s great to see more support for the newly self-employed, who have missed out over the last year.”

Mr Sunak will also extend the £20-a-week top up to universal credit for six months to help struggling households.

However, as he seeks ways of clawing back the £300 billion so far committed to various support schemes he is expected to announce a number of tax rises.

He is said to be planning an increase in corporation tax to as much as 25%, from the current 19%, and there is speculation that he will tax online deliveries which have boomed in the lockdown.



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