The Government Treasury Select Committee

Posted on 1 July 2020

Our Research Director, Ian Marson was recently invited by the Government Treasury Select Committee (TSC) to submit evidence on behalf of professional freelance genealogists on how the Coronavirus Pandemic and subsequent restrictions are likely to impact on the financial well being of self employed genealogists.

Ian submitted evidence as Secretary of the Association of Scottish Genealogists & Researchers in Archives (ASGRA) which is the accrediting body for Genealogists in Scotland and also gave advice to the Association of Genealogists & Researchers in Archives (AGRA), which is the accrediting body for genealogists in England and Wales, on making a similar submission to the TSC.

Ian was able to make the point that almost all professional genealogists are freelance self employed workers being sole traders and not limited companies and whose income derives from private and corporate Clients.

"In the course of our work we rely on access to records kept in archive repositories throughout the UK. Within one week of the implementation of restrictions repositories in the UK closed down cutting off our access to resources for genealogical and historical research leaving genealogists unable to carry on working in any meaningful sense and preventing completion of cases that were in process. Although there are online records available through a number of providers the reality is that professional genealogists use a far wider range of the 10% of records available through online providers."

Following submissions of evidence the Chancellor announced a range of packages to help the self employed, however, the grant will not be paid until June at the earliest.

Following the Chancellor's announcement the TSC invited Ian to submit feedback on the Chancellor’s most recent statement on support for the self-employed and he was able to make the point that while the announcement on the support package was welcome any action that could be taken to enable an earlier payment than June would be beneficial as would any assurance Government could give to helping self-employed rebuild their business once the pandemic situation was over. Ian also pointed out that the Banks were slow in offering help to business owners and promoting their own financial packages rather than allowing access to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Recently the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority have instructed the banks to follow the rules and be pro-active in helping small businesses through the crisis.