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Written Question
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Wednesday 24th February 2021

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies Who is excluded from the government's Self Employment Income Support Scheme and what could the government do about it?, published on 27 January; and what plans they have to introduce targeted support to freelance workers in the creative industries who do not qualify for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (1) who became self-employed after 2019, and (2) who are on zero-hour contracts.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has provided and will continue to provide generous support to self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria.

The Government has recognised taxpayers have faced immense challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has prioritised delivering support to as many people as possible while guarding against the risk of fraud or abuse.

The design of the SEISS, including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

The SEISS is among the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world. The claims window for the third grant closed on 29 January 2021. As of 31 December, it received claims from 1.9 million individuals so far, amounting to £5.4bn.

The fourth grant will cover February to April 2021. The Government will set out further details at the Budget in March.

The SEISS continues to be just one element of a substantial package of support for the self-employed which includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

The Government recognises the value of the cultural sector and creative professionals and has announced a £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to protect the cultural sectors through the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, more than £790m of grants and loans have been allocated to over 3,000 cultural organisations in England. Organisations supported include galleries, theatres, museums, orchestras, music venues, comedy clubs and festivals. This funding will help to support jobs and organisations across the country.


Written Question
Job Support Scheme
Monday 23rd November 2020

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they have spent on (1) developing, and (2) trialling, the Job Support Scheme.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

HM Treasury, along with other Government departments including HMRC, developed the Job Support Scheme through the usual government processes using a range of Civil Service policy expertise and experience. It is not possible to determine the cost of developing individual policies. The Chancellor postponed the Job Support Scheme and has announced the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of March 2021 for all parts of the UK. HMG will review the policy in January to consider whether any changes to the policy are appropriate in light of the economic and health situation at that time.


Written Question
Business: Coronavirus
Wednesday 13th May 2020

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to develop long-term COVID-19 recovery plans for businesses which (1) stimulate demand, and (2) address any increase in unemployment. [T]

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including around £300 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. As the Prime Minister set out in his statement in Parliament on 11 May, the Government’s economic strategy will be closely coordinated with the public health strategy to ensure a safe return to economic activity. The Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy is set out on gov.uk.


Written Question
Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014
Tuesday 29th October 2019

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 have ensured that VAT is no longer applied to debts enforced under a High Court judgment; and if not, what steps they will take to resolve this.

Answered by Earl of Courtown

Debt collection services carried out by High Court Enforcement Officers are subject to VAT according to the normal rules and any VAT due is payable by the creditor who receives the service. The debtor is not required to pay the VAT.

HM Revenue and Customs are working with the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) 2014 Regulations, to ensure that VAT rules continue to be applied correctly.


Written Question
Secured Loans
Thursday 5th July 2018

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the damage caused to vulnerable people by high cost log book loans; why they have decided not to proceed with the Goods Mortgages Bill through the Law Commission’s special procedure; and what alternative steps they intend to take to increase consumer protection.

Answered by Lord Bates

In September 2014, the Government asked the Law Commission to examine the Bills of Sale Acts, and the Law Commission published a draft Goods Mortgages Bill in September 2017. The Government published a consultation alongside the draft bill.

On 14 May 2018, the Government published a response to the consultation. Due to concerns raised in the consultation, the shrinking size of the logbook loan market, and wider work on high-cost credit, the Government decided not to take the Goods Mortgages Bill forward at this time.

The Government has given the FCA strong powers to protect consumers. The FCA has decided to look in more detail at logbook loans, using their supervisory and policy tools to assess whether they need to take action. The Government will continue to work closely with the FCA to ensure that all customers are treated fairly.


Written Question
Enterprise Management Incentives
Monday 30th April 2018

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to apply for an extension of the EU State Aid Exemption for the Enterprise Management Incentives scheme which expired on 6 April.

Answered by Lord Bates

The Government began the process of renewing the State Aid approval for the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme early last year. The European Commission are considering the application.

A further update will be provided in due course.


Written Question
Royal Parks: VAT
Monday 27th March 2017

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether VAT will be charged on money paid by HM Government to the Royal Parks charity; whether VAT is payable in full by the Royal Parks to HM Revenue and Customs in respect of services it provides to the HM Government; whether VAT will be chargeable and payable to HM Revenue and Customs on goods and services, such as catering, provided by the Royal Parks charity to others, including the general public, on the same terms as apply to other providers of goods and services; and whether other arrangements for VAT, not covered by those indicated above, will apply to the Royal Parks charity, for example on the purchase of services supplied by others, including in respect of maintenance and repairs of assets.

Answered by Baroness Neville-Rolfe - Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Whilst it is not possible to comment on the affairs of individual taxpayers, the general rule is that VAT is due to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on taxable supplies made by VAT registered persons, including charities. This is the case whether the supplies are made to HM Government or to others. In turn suppliers can normally recover, from HMRC, the VAT they pay on their costs.


Written Question
Credit: Interest Rates
Wednesday 23rd March 2016

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what they are doing to ensure that the Financial Conduct Authority raises standards in the consumer credit market by requiring that all firms stress test their products and lending decisions against the needs of vulnerable borrowers so that credit is used in an affordable and sustainable way.

Answered by Lord O'Neill of Gatley

The Government has fundamentally reformed regulation of the consumer credit market, transferring regulatory responsibility from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 1 April 2014.

The FCA requires lenders to treat all their customers fairly, and provides examples of good practice in identifying and interacting with vulnerable customers.

The FCA has also turned key elements of the OFT’s Irresponsible Lending Guidance into binding rules that are based on the principle that money should only be lent to a consumer if they can afford to repay it. These rules set out that a firm should assess the customer’s creditworthiness, having regard to:

  • the potential for the commitments to impact adversely on the consumer’s financial situation, and

  • the consumer’s ability to make repayments as they fall due.

    The Government has ensured that the FCA has robust powers to protect consumers and it has a broad enforcement toolkit to punish breaches of its rules; there is no limit on the fines it can levy.


Written Question
Credit: Interest Rates
Wednesday 23rd March 2016

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the lack of affordable credit supply reported by StepChange in its figures of 9 March, what work they are doing with banks and community lenders to introduce a scheme of low- or no-interest loans, similar to the Good Shepherd initiative in Australia.

Answered by Lord O'Neill of Gatley

The Government is committed to facilitating sustainable financial services that give consumers greater choice in accessing credit. It has already introduced several initiatives to support the Credit Union sector. These include investing £38m in the sector through the Department of Work and Pensions’ Credit Union Expansion Project, providing £500,000 to help armed forces personnel access credit union services, ensuring that universal credit and pensions payments can be paid into any Credit Union account, and changing legislation to allow credit unions to admit corporate members.

Additionally, the Government has provided £650,000 to fund the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Affordable Credit’s ‘LifeSavers’ project. This project forms partnerships between primary schools and local credit unions, raising awareness of the credit union movement and encouraging more junior savers to become members. This was announced in the Prime Ministers ‘Life Chances’ speech on 11 January.


Written Question
Debts
Tuesday 2nd February 2016

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to take forward the consultation on the legal framework for debt administration proposed by the 2015 Farnish Review of the Money Advice Service, and if so, when.

Answered by Lord O'Neill of Gatley

The Government is committed to exploring whether some form of “breathing space” would be a useful and viable addition to the range of formal and informal debt solutions available to consumers and creditors. Officials in HM Treasury and the Insolvency Service have been asked to discuss this issue with stakeholders with a view to identifying possible options and have begun work on this review.