Chancellor under fire for being interested in ‘big businesses’ only

Rishi Sunak is facing backlash from critics after his speech on entrepreneurship at a Treasury conference

At the Treasury Connect Conference in London on Tuesday (14 September), which brought together UK tech firms and investors, the Chancellor announced his support for private equity taking over British listed businesses.  

He said: “These firms have huge economic potential and will play a critical role in our future prosperity – all while creating high-skilled jobs and boosting the economy as part of our Plan for Jobs.

“The Future Fund was set up to ensure that investment keeps flowing to our most innovative businesses, and it’s fantastic that taxpayers now have equity in these top-performing start-ups.”

Sunak also explained that he wanted the UK to be a “nation of entrepreneurs.”

Backlash comes just a week after tax rises announced

However, many self-employed people, small businesses and lobbying groups hit back at Sunak on Twitter stating he has “failed to support over three million freelancers” during the global pandemic. 

This criticism comes just a week after Boris Johnson announced a 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and dividend tax to fund the health and social care reform from April 2022.

Responding to the Chancellor’s comments, Jennifer Griffiths, spokesperson for lobbying group, ExcludedUK, told Contractor Weekly: “ExcludedUK is absolutely astounded and disgusted that the Chancellor, who made policy decisions to abandon over 3 million taxpayers from pandemic financial support, now expects those same individuals and businesses to find money they don’t have to support increases in tax and NI.

Tax hike ‘double whammy’ for some self-employed

“To add insult to injury, he announces he wants the UK to be a nation of entrepreneurs, when all our members have witnessed is that he is only interested in big business, not the SMEs he has abandoned. 

“[…] The tax and NI increase is a double whammy for the self-employed and limited company directors, and some are being taxed as both employers and employees.

“The gaslighting by the government that these people are ‘fat cats’ and earn a fortune is appalling and very misleading. 

“These people are hairdressers, beauticians, plumbers, electricians, creatives and were always led to believe they were the backbone of the UK economy, whereas the reality of the contemptuous narrative by this government is a very bitter pill to swallow.”

Chancellor creating a ‘nation of no rights workers’

Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at self-employed trade body IPSE, also raised concerns over Sunak’s comments

He said: “We would be delighted if the Treasury was truly creating a nation of entrepreneurs, but this is simply not the mood music that has been coming from this government. 

“The gaps in support during the pandemic, the changes to IR35 tax rules – pushing more and more freelancers into the wild west of umbrella companies – and now the hikes to dividend taxes: far from creating a nation of freelancers and entrepreneurs, all this seems to be undermining this vital sector and creating a nation of no rights workers.”

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