Budget case study – the self-employed worker
When former professional cyclist Matt Rump, then unemployed, decided to repair some old bicycles rusting at the bottom of his garden and sell them for spare parts on eBay, it was the first step towards him setting up a successful business in Kessingland, Suffolk.
Two years later and as a sole trader running a full service cycle shop,CycleRecycle, which sells upcycled and recycled bikes and spare parts, as well as offering a repair service and bike hire, the 40-year-old admits he was "underwhelmed" by the budget, and disappointed it contained no practical measures or incentives to help him expand.
As well as small high street premises Rump has an online store selling more than 10,000 parts and accessories, and has been seriously considering taking on a member of staff to help him. "When I hear regularly on the radio that there are 2.5 million unemployed people in the UK, and I probably get a couple coming in every week asking for work, it makes me wonder why the government can't offer some incentives.
"It is a huge leap and lots of extra responsibility to make that move and become an employer. There's nothing here that will help me."
Even the proposed employment allowance, allowing small businesses and charities to reduce the cost of hiring staff through a £2,000 per annum employment allowance to go towards their employer National Insurance Contribution bill from April 2014, is not a sufficiently attractive incentive for a small operator like him, he says.
Similarly, vouchers which enable him to get business advice sound "tokenistic". "I got a £3,000 business loan from the local community finance organisation Foundation East and that's where I go to get advice."
The chancellor's decision to scrap the fuel duty increase planned for this autumn is good news for hard-pressed motorists, but potentially bad news for Rump's business – when fuel goes up in price, he traditionally feels the benefit.
"I have been trading from this shop for nearly two years, and in that time I have noticed a lot of people turning to bicycles. In general they fall into three categories: cyclists who love cycling; people who have lost their jobs and sold their car and need cheaper transport; and people who simply cannot afford to run a car. So I will potentially lose new customers."
One glimmer of good news is the raising of the personal allowance for under-65s to £10,000 from next year, not from 2015 as previously planned. "That will give me a bit of wriggle-room and a bit of extra disposable income," he says, "although unfortunately I am not a beer drinker …"
Article written by Rebecca Smithers and published on the guardian.co.uk,