INSUFFICIENT HELP DURING THE PANDEMIC’S SECOND WAVE: According to information released by ATA (Association for Sole Traders), each day there are 500 small businesses that close doors forever and these business owners as well as those who perhaps continue to struggle amidst the crisis feel that not enough is being done EIGHT MONTHS into the pandemic.
Although I’m sure the government has done and continues to do everything in its power to provide assistant to individuals and business owners alike, if you think about it, the measures in place allow for employees to be placed on furlough and for the business owners to receive a maximum of 661 euros per month, but is this enough? I could not imagine being in the hot seat and being responsible for passing legislation and making the tough decisions to ensure Spain’s stability at this uncertain time, but maybe it is time for further measures to be agreed…
The critics feel it is time to reraise the question about whether it is plausible for sole traders to contribute at Social Security in accordance to their income instead of a standardized rate calculated by the Administration as it is now. At present, the 661 euros per month financial aid is based on a general calculation that has nothing to do with each individual’s standard of life.
What does this mean? Sole Traders contribute each month as per a Base Rate calculated by Social Security, whereas other European countries contribute in accordance to their income. In this current scenario, those who requested financial aid because the government initially shut down their business activity or because of decreased revenue receive monthly benefits based on the Base Rate and not on their income. So, whether your business generates a monthly profit of 500 euros or 10.000 euros, the benefits received are the same.
This method has affected people at the top end of the spectrum because it is not the same to have monthly outgoings of 5.000 euros as opposed to somebody else’s outgoings of 2.000 euros and only receive 661 euros per month as this would not cover their living expenses. If however, they contribute every month according to their real income, their finacial aid could perhaps be calculated on the average over the past 12 months and the monthly benefits received would allow them to cover their expenses in line with their lifestyle.
Contributions based on real income is a double-edged sword. Even I can see the logistical issues with this and I have commented on this many times over the past few years. Sole Trader Associations have raised this problem on numerous occasions and although Social Security has agreed to consider the possibility, nothing has come of it. The only reason I can think of is that they cannot trust business owners to be honest and decare their real income. If the majority were to underdeclare, I believe we could effectively say “adiós” to the Spanish Social Security system as it exists now because there would not be sufficient funds available to cover unemployment, sick pay, not to mention pensions.
In light of the pandemic and how people have been forced to cope over the last eight months with limited resources, I feel it is only logical for this subject to be reopened and discussed in real terms, but I am not optimistic about a positive outcome simply because of the millions that have been spent from the budget this year alone. Yet, it must also be said that if the majority could be responsible and honest in their declarations, there is no reason why this couldn’t be a way forward and it may even encourage thousands more to register their businesses legally without the pressure of a minimum 286-euro monthly contribution before getting a chance to earn for themselves.