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- CEO update February 2022: IR35, COVID-19 restrictions and Maternity and Paternity leave
CEO update February 2022: IR35, COVID-19 restrictions and Maternity and Paternity leave
- 3 Mar 2022
After two years of economic uncertainty and restrictions, the government finally announced an end to COVID-19 measures on Thursday 24th February. The ending of restrictions marks a pivotal moment in the country’s battle against the virus and signals what we all hope will be a beginning of the end to the pandemic.
While it remains to be seen if another variant will ruin the government’s plans, last week’s announcement marks a turning point for the UK’s self-employed. It removes economic uncertainty and allows them to practice freely, without the fear of COVID-19 restrictions impacting their work.
Despite other issues like IR35 and the planned rise in National Insurance continuing to loom over the industry, there is great cause for optimism as we move on from the pandemic and reach a sense of normality.
After months of consultations and in-person hearings, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee finally published its main conclusions from its follow up inquiry into IR35 earlier this month. IPSE gave evidence to the committee in December, and we are pleased to note that many of our comments have fed into the committee’s recommendations. Read the evidence we submitted below:Read more
For instance, the committee rightly pointed out that determining status remains extremely confusing and that the government should make good on its commitment to clarify the status rules. The report also highlighted the rapid growth of umbrella companies since the IR35 changes were implemented last year.
On the same day as the Lords’ findings were published, the National Audit Office released its own report into the implementation of the IR35 reforms, albeit in the public sector on April 6th 2017. The report referenced research from IPSE throughout and it stated that the measures generated significantly more revenue than expected, indicating that clients were incorrectly determining that IR35 applied to more engagements than it should.
Following both reports, we are putting pressure on the government on IR35. The controversial reforms have loomed large over the self-employed sector since the implementation of IR35 in the private sector last year and we are continuing to push the government to conduct a full-scale review into the changes.
Umbrella company consultation
Late last year, the government launched a call for evidence on the umbrella company market following concerns that non-compliant firms are failing to comply with tax and employment laws. Based on insights from our members, IPSE has submitted written evidence on umbrella companies to government; you can read exactly what we said in the blog below:Read more
This month, we also arranged a virtual meeting between umbrella company workers and HMRC to help the government with their consultation. During the meeting, our members expressed their concerns around umbrella companies directly to a handful of senior decision-makers.
While the meeting was productive, it isn’t the end of IPSE’s campaigning around umbrella companies. Behind the scenes, we have been speaking to a number of leading umbrella companies on how the market can be improved. We will announce more details around this in the coming months.
Self-Employed Landscape Report
Earlier this month, we published our annual Self-Employed Landscape Report. The report shows how the past year has impacted the sector. It revealed that the number of solo self-employed workers in the UK has fallen by five per cent for the second year running, falling from 4.3 million in 2020 to 4.1 million in 2021.
Regionally, whilst many regions saw decreases to the overall numbers of solo self-employed workers, Wales, the East of England and the North East actually experienced increases in solo self-employed workers.
Concerningly, the report also revealed that the number of Universal credit claimants by solo self-employed workers increased by 15 per cent since 2020, following a 241 per cent increased experienced between 2019 and 2020. You can read the full report below:Read full report
Maternity and Paternity offer
This month, we at IPSE have launched a new offer for self-employed workers who are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave. We know that it can be difficult for freelancers to juggle being a parent with work, so that’s why we’re giving new and existing members 60% off IPSE membership for 6 months during maternity, paternity and adoption leave. Read more about the offer below:Read more
We are also currently putting together an upcoming event to allow parents to discuss all things freelance and parenting. During the meeting, you'll be able to expand your network, make new connections and boost your sense of wellbeing. If you are interested in coming to the event, then please click the link below.Sign up
National Insurance increase
This month, IPSE wrote to the Chancellor to him to delay the planned increase to National Insurance and dividend tax following the energy crisis. With the self-employed sector already struggling with soaring household energy bills, inflation and IR35, IPSE believes that the planned increase could further damage the sector as it tries to recover. Read the full statement below:Read more
Moving beyond the pandemic
With restrictions ending and the country returning to a sense of normality, freelancers can finally meet their clients face to face, without social distancing guidelines and other pandemic measures. We at IPSE are keen to take advantage of the ending of restrictions by meeting members face to face again.
We have therefore organised a series of local member meetups alongside the support of individual members. We have meetings in London and Bristol over the next month and we hope that these events will be a chance for us to meet members, offer them support and to listen to their concerns.
If you would be interested in hosting your own local member meetup with our support, then please click the link below.Register here
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