The Resolution Trust that is. Set up with a donation of private money. Good on them.
However, they might do better not having Jenni Russell writing about them.
The man who painted my house two summers ago is out of a job. The company that has employed him for the last 10 years has sacked almost all its staff, because the work just isn\’t there. Joseph has had no income for eight weeks. For the first time in his life, he tried to claim a benefit – jobseekers\’ allowance – but he wasn\’t entitled to it because, for all but the last 10 months, his firm had defined him as self-employed. Ten months isn\’t enough to build an independent tax and national insurance contributions record, even though he has been a taxpayer for 27 years. He\’s been told he can\’t have income-based benefit either, because his wife, who is a cleaner, earns about £8,000 a year.
He most certainly does have an independent tax record: HMRC will know exactly how much he\’s paid (or not paid) in tax over those 10 years.
It\’s the National Insurance bit that is different: and that is indeed because he was self-employed. For, and here\’s the bit oh so many don\’t get, national insurance really does work like insurance when it comes to claiming benefits (the idea that they keep reserves like a real insurance company is of course laughable). You\’ve got to pay in before you get paid out. And the self-employed pay much lower national insurance charges than the employed: and the quid pro quo here is that you don\’t get things like Jobseeker\’s Allowance on the same terms as those who pay more in MI.
If you\’re going to write about how people get screwed by the system you really do also need to understand the options that the system itself offers. Not getting a benefit you\’ve not paid the insurance premium for just ain\’t the worst thing in the world.
As to the rest of it, well, you know, she doesn\’t once manage to mention the fact that, heinously, people on that sort of income have to stump up income tax. If you or I were to mutter something about doing better for the working poor, that\’s one of the things we would mention.
So, top marks to the Resolution Trust for being a proper part of a vibrant civil society. People in voluntary association spending their own time and money to make the world a better place by their lights.
Nul points for not finding a journalist who actually understands the issues to speak for them.