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Self-employed NI hike is a “slap in the face” for backstage workers – BECTU

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of backstage union BECTU. Photo: BECTU
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The entertainment unions have criticised a tax increase for freelancers, announced in the budget, with BECTU describing it as a “slap in the face” for its members.

In the budget on March 8, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced new measures to increase national insurance contributions for self-employed workers from 9% to 11% by 2019.

The increase is for Class 4 NICs, affecting those who earn between £8,060 and £42,355 per year.

Their payments will move from 9% of earnings to 10% in 2018, and then to 11% the following year.

Employed workers pay 12% of their earnings as national insurance, with Hammond claiming that increasing the amount paid by self-employed workers will make the system fairer, given that the self-employed can claim the new state pension.

However, head of BECTU Gerry Morrissey said the tax increase implemented by central government was “unfair and unjustified”.

“Self-employed workers will be paying almost the same employment taxes as secure staff, without employee benefits and the security that staff have,” he said.

He added: “Raising their taxes will squeeze their already tight margins, and harm their standard of living. This is the exact opposite of what the government claims to be doing to help entrepreneurs. There is no problem of false self-employment, or disguised employment, in our sector.”

Equity has also responded to the news, claiming it is “very disappointed” to see the government has chosen to further increase the burden on self employed workers.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain added: “Freelance writers have no job security, carry economic risk, and pay costs that employees do not have to. They are also already working on very tight margins and these changes will risk lowering their standards of living further.”

Hammond’s announcement comes a year after the government announced plans to abolish Class 2 NICs, seeing national insurance bills for the lowest paid increase by up to 500%.

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