Martin Lewis hosted a special edition of his Money Show Live on Thursday night focusing on the “practicals, not the politics” of the UK Government’s recent Budget announcement.
The Money Saving Expert met with Rishi Sunak, and for the first time in the show’s history, put viewers’ questions directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In a packed 30-minute programme, the consumer champion explained how several issues raised in the Budget will work, including the furlough scheme extension, benefits, the fourth and fifth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants (SEISS) and the so-called ‘Excluded’.
Martin met with the Chancellor in Teeside for an interview ahead of the programme's 8.30pm slot on STV and when co-host Angelica Bell asked him how it had gone, he replied: “Of course it’s me, so it’s not about economics, I leave that to others it’s about personal finance.”
Martin added how he only had a limited amount of time and wanted to put as many viewer topics to the Chancellor as possible.
He also pointed out that the interview wasn’t just about Rishi Sunak’s answers.
Mrtin said: “Because I asked him what ‘you’ wanted me to, this is almost an awareness raising session so the Chancellor can’t say, ‘I didn’t know about that’ in the future.”
Here is a breakdown of the key points from Martin’s Budget review and interview with the Chancellor.
Martin explained to viewers how furlough is being extended until the end of September, instead of April, and outlined the changes in employer contributions as the scheme draws to a close.
He said: “From July, employers will contribute 10 per cent, in August and September, 20 per cent.
"Let’s be honest, once they have to pay those real sums, they will likely go ‘is that employee still viable?’, if not, we’ll start to see redundancies from then.”
Fourth SEISS grant (and number five)
Speaking about SEISS grant number four, Martin said: “We now know it will open late-April, that’s a bit of a delay. The amount you get is exactly the same as before, the criteria is also unchanged, except, from now 2019/2020 tax returns will be included.”
The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com reminded viewers this is something he has been campaigning for to ensure more people, affected by the pandemic, are receiving financial support.
“For someone who was newly self-employed from around October 2018, they weren’t getting anything because it was reliant on the tax year before. Allowing these self-assessment returns to go into it, means many more people will now get some money from the grant,” Martin explained.
He added: “Since the Budget, I’ve confirmed the average profit figure will be for over the past four years - 2016 tax year to 2019/20 tax year - rather than the three years it was previously.”
The Chancellor also announced there will be a fifth SEISS grant which can be claimed from July.
Explaining the details of the fifth grant, Martin said: “You get three months average profits, although it seems to cover May, June, July, August and September, so five months there and a little bit fishy.”
He continued: “If your turnover has dropped by more than 30 per cent, you’ll get the 80 per cent of average profits. If it’s dropped, but by less than 30 per cent, you’ll only get 30 per cent of average profits.”
How do they measure the drop?
Martin explained: “They take your turnover in the tax year 2020/21 and they [HMRC] compare that to what you had pre-pandemic and that’s the drop they’re measuring.”
Commenting on the delayed opening to the fourth SEISS grant, the Chancellor told Martin: “The simple reason is the grant covers the period for February to April so people will need to have a sense of their circumstances over that period.”
When Martin pressed him about the delay he replied: “The difference this time is we’re making an improvement in access to the grant and we want to bring in all of those people who have filed tax returns for 2019/2020.”
Rishi Sunak confirmed to Martin that as many as 600,000 business owners will be left without support during the pandemic.
The financial journalist pushed for answers on behalf of the business owners who haven't been able to claim any support since the pandemic began.
He read out a message from one of the thousands affected to the Chancellor which asked: "Why why why is the fourth grant for SEISS not available now, waiting until April will leave me homeless."
Martin pressed the Chancellor on whether there was any chance that date could be changed, but he said it wouldn't be possible.
Mr Sunak said: "In order for us to progress the sheer millions of claims and tax returns, to be able to go through them to get the grants, we do need that time.
"That was part of the trade-off in the deadline and flexibility, and bringing those people in. That's a tricky balance. We could have kept January 31 and been very hard on that, but we said we would take new self-returns for people until the day before the Budget - if those things mean we have to be a little later in getting grants out, that's the balance"
Martin has also been a vocal campaigner on behalf of the so-called Excluded, Limited Company Directors, who have not been able to claim any financial support during the pandemic and asked the Chancellor; "What have you got against Limited Company Directors to leave them without any support?"
Mr Sunak said they can claim furlough for their Pay As You Earn earnings, that their business may be eligible for a bounceback loan, they may be eligible for a mortgage holiday or welfare support, including Universal Credit.
Martin explained to viewers how the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit has been extended until the end of September and that people claiming Working Tax Credits will also receive a one-off £500 payment in April.
He also confirmed that for those that are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, the removal of the minimum income floor will continue until August.
“So, if you’re self-employed, they [Department for Work and Pensions] have always assumed you’re earning at least minimum wage for 30 hours per week when they assess your Universal Credit, so if you’re earning less, it doesn’t make any difference,” Martin told viewers.
He continued: “During the pandemic, they’ve got rid of that, so they actually assess you on your actual earnings which would mean more Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes.”
He also advised that after August, your work coach could keep that removal going for you.
You can watch the full interview with Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the Martin Lewis Money Show Live on the STV Player.
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