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‘Wishy Washy’ Politicians Have 72 Hours To Sway 400,000 Sole Traders

Political leaders have 72 hours and one last shot at convincing sole traders to vote for them in this year’s election, with their ‘poor’ and ‘wishy washy’ policies failing to impress a sector that represents around 20 per cent of the country’s workforce.

Nearly 400,000 New Zealanders are sole traders and include contractors, freelancers, and the self-employed working across a wide range of industries, from trades, creative and professional services to transport and the medical sector. Hnry - the country’s largest accountancy designed specifically for sole traders - canvassed political parties about what they would do to support sole traders if elected and released the results last month.

Policies ranged from providing free mental health services to including sole traders in the next Census. Other promises were largely irrelevant, like protecting sole traders from ram raids, repealing the Natural and Built Environment Act , and streamlining ‘systems’.

Hnry asked sole traders to rate the parties’ responses, with the group unimpressed with what’s on offer.

Builder Josh Poffley describes the ideas put forward as poor and says they ‘drifted’ off into general policy. Lisa Cher, a fitness instructor, said they were okay but ‘wishy-washy’ and showed a limited understanding of who sole traders are.

Dr Anita Perkins, a research consultant and sole trader, rates all responses as poor and says she has very low confidence the next government will deliver anything different for her sector.

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“There is almost no recognition of what we do as a group distinct from small business. There are 400,000 sole traders in New Zealand - which is around the same as the population of Iceland, and we make a large contribution to the economy. During Covid, there was great support for us, but beyond that, there are few obvious policies or offerings to acknowledge and support the role of sole traders as a distinct group.

“Globally, New Zealand is a small country, and our unique selling points include our independence, creativity, niche solutions and innovation. This proposition relies in part on sole traders' skills, networks, and experiences to contribute to the economy. If the government doesn’t specifically support this way of working, it will hold the country back,” she says.

Hnry CEO James Fuller says parties still have a chance to claw back confidence, but time is running out.

“Every day, there’s increasing confusion and uncertainty amongst voters - presenting a golden opportunity for any of the major parties to release relevant policies targeted at sole traders instead of trying to shoehorn existing policy to make it fit.

“Like the sole traders we represent, we’re tired of political parties paying lip service to what is a thriving sector. Reducing red tape around Anti-Money Laundering checks won’t benefit midwives. Sole traders are unlikely to be victims of ram raids (despite what ACT thinks), and vague digitisation promises don’t move the dial. The slash and burn on “consultancy and contractor” spending across the public service will see independent sole traders incorrectly lumped in with management consultants from global firms, and is the icing on the woeful cake politicians have baked for sole traders.

“The time for dog-whistle policies is over; now we need to see action,” he says.

To find out more about Hnry, visit their website.

About Hnry:

Hnry is a digital accountant and tax automation tool, just for sole traders. With a service that automatically calculates and pays taxes, offers full financial admin support, and becomes their customer's accountant, Hnry is a world first and is saving tens-of-thousands of sole traders time, money and stress.

As Australasia’s fastest-growing accountancy service, Hnry is changing what an 'all in one' service means for sole traders. They take care of everything from invoicing and expenses, to tax payments and filings in an affordable, pay-as-you-go model and provide expert, on-demand support. Founded in Wellington in 2017, Hnry has experienced record growth and now helps self-employed people in New Zealand and Australia.

Hnry has continued to win awards and accolades, including ‘Emerging Service of the Year’ at the 2019 Wellington Gold Awards, being named a finalist for ‘Hi-Tech Service of the Year’ at the 2019 NZ Hi-Tech Awards, winning ‘Supporting Gold’ at the 2020 Wellington Gold Awards and the RCSA Outstanding Supplier Award for 2022. They also won the People’s Choice (FinTech Organisation of the Year) Award at the 2022 and 2023 Australian Finnies.


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