Had a day of unexpected bureaucratic mither (my favourite northern word), which is now resolved but was a distraction from what I intended on doing, writing a proper full-on blog post. It means I haven’t got time, but I’ll push on anyway. People’s favourite Prime Minister-in-waiting, Rishi Sunak, has announced more “help” for the self-employed and I can barely contain my enthusiasm.
Look! There it goes. Tried to contain it but it just ran off… And now it’s sniffing that dog’s bum…
Brief backstory: I did, in the end, apply for the two self-employment grants earlier in the year. They helped me enormously when times were tough. At first, I was in two minds, but various friends and family told me I’d be a fool not to. So, I did, feeling all manner of shame back in June and August. The sums were paltry, but my guilt was assuaged when I noticed that members of the House of Lords recently complained because their daily pay of £323 was cut during the lockdown to *only* £162. A day! Not even (I’d be so lucky) a month!
It’s astonishing how people’s perceptions inform their bad thinking (and perhaps I’m not better). There was a story a while ago, perhaps apocryphal, of an MP complaining that he didn’t understand why there was such a fuss when they cut £20 from some disability allowance, figuring that nobody would be bothered by “only” £20. I saw the same argument made today on Twitter today when a carer complained that the new grant (20% of profits) would give her only £200+ to cover three months. Another Twitter user suggested she must have had her sums wrong, whilst another said he couldn’t understand why she would claim such a small amount.
I don’t like getting into Twitter spats but this time I had to. I pointed out that not all of us have lives where we can pursue the careers we’d hope to pursue (professional conker wranger). The last two weeks put that into perspective for me, having spent a week getting back into some serious writing, only to have life dump a truck load of trouble in my path. It’s why I cartooned yesterday. It was a task that fit the time I had available, whereas long-form writing is almost impossible.
But I digress…
I hope to be able to claim the next grant, though like the aforementioned carer, it’s not exactly going to furnish me in luxury. Helps me live frugally and keep chipping away at my post-graduate debts. It will do little to make up for the shortfall people are feeling these days. I certainly know it’s definitely harder to get things published (fewer outlets that respond to requests) and, of course, zero chance to get anything for my drawing. We’re hoping to record a new podcast in the coming days (yes, I know everybody who reads the blog hate the podcasts) but I enjoy them, even if they do nothing for my income. Christ knows I need the grant.
Yet that brings me to the Chancellor’s thinking. It doesn’t add up. By giving people a set percentage of their monthly “profit”, it means it’s hugely weighted to those people on a whacking great income. If, for example, I was on £24,000 a year (an easy number for the maths but also, I guess, closer to the national average), those people would be getting 20% of £2000, to help them. That’s £400 a month (and higher incomes are capped at £697). If, however, you’re on say £8000 a year, you’d get a £133. Perhaps that just speaks to some greater fairness – that those earning the most have contributed the most tax – and it’s hard not to disagree with that. However, the overriding sense from this government is that they care about those at the top rather than those at the bottom. Lots of people – and I mean a significant number – get no help.
I should be careful, though. My bias is showing. I’m all for fiscal responsibility but I do wonder why it’s always those at the bottom who are asked to be the most fiscally responsible. There’s a point where tightening belt tightening begins to impinge on nerves in the spine. It’s bad all around and there’s no way to avoid the economic hit we’re all going to take, especially with Brexit around the corner.
Sigh. Not much more to say, I guess. That thought process ran out of steam quite quickly.
My email has just pinged to remind me to go watch Jeff Bezos launch a rocket… [And the launch was scrubbed the moment I logged on…]
2 thoughts on “Rishi”
Clever use of smoke and mirrors by the Chancellor, or rather a clever use of percentages to cloak what you are actually up to. During his briefing he said that the cost to the treasury per month would be £300 million for every million people kept on, so in effect an average of £300 per month per person. This is suspiciously close to the £322 per month you would get on jobseekers allowance, not that any of the journalists noticed as they probably don’t even know what that it is. What he is therefore doing, is paying out money that he would have to pay out anyway if the jobs were lost, and hoping that it might save some in the process. It’s a no risk bet. I actually agree with this, a majority of the people still on furlough are simply delayed unemployments and I think it is a tough sell to be handing out more money to them than you are giving to people on the dole who have already had their employment terminated. It also takes money out of your hand that you may need for job creation further down the line.
This is also why the German scheme seems more generous, over there they pay out two thirds of your last salary for twelve months, up to a maximum of 5900 euros per month. As the cost to the state of unemployment is markedly higher, therefore more generous payments to forestall it can be and are justified.
Smoke and mirrors and a whole deal of internal party politics. You’re right about the furlough money vs benefits. Pretty obvious from the beginning and generally sensible since this is a case of the economy going into sleep mode for a few months until a vaccine starts to roll out. Saw an interesting piece (think it was on The Telegraph, of all places) noting how masks can create immunity and reduces the viral load, ensuring more people are asymptomatic (and therefor helping towards herd immunity). It’s so sensible I was surprised at the source. The way through this seems so obvious from a scientific point of view but it’s getting too wrapped up in ideology.