CEO update February: Budget, IR35 campaigning, Director election results and more

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For IPSE, the beginning of 2021 has proved another tireless period of campaigning for and supporting the self-employed community. We have been at the forefront of calls to extend the SEISS grants to include the newly self-employed and directors operating out of limited companies. I’m also glad to say that our webinar events have tackled some of the most important issues facing the sector and delivered on developing new skills for members.

Through February, we also ran our latest round of director elections and I am delighted to announce that our Board will now be joined by Iain Sturrock and Julia Hilger-Ellis, who bring with them a wealth of experience from numerous sectors and previous Board roles.

March Budget and IR35

With the upcoming Budget next week and the April roll-out of the IR35 tax reforms, we have been working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the self-employed in several key areas. Our Budget submission to the Chancellor focused on delaying and rethinking the IR35 private sector changes and urging him to refrain from tax hikes for the self-employed.

To amplify our voice, we recently launched a letter-writing campaign on the IR35 changes, where constituents write to their MP calling for a delay to the proposed reforms. We have seen a strong uptake of this initiative and we aim to use this campaign to further highlight the case for a delay – of at least twelve months – in order to consider alternative arrangements which has not been possible due to the pandemic. Thank you to all our members who contacted their MPs on this issue. If you haven’t sent your letter, it’s not too late: you can see our template letter here.

Thank you too to all our members who took part in our latest IR35 survey. The results are being compiled now and will be released in a report at the beginning of next week, which we’ll publish on our website and circulate to relevant officials and MPs.

We know it’s been an incredibly tough year for the self -employed – as confirmed by ONS figures this week – which is why we’ve also called on the Chancellor to do more to support this vital sector. Company Directors have received precious little by way of support compared to some other groups, so too have those sole traders who have been trading for under two years. Now that the Self-Assessment tax return deadline has passed, IPSE is calling for HMRC to use the information from it to include those with tax returns for 2019/20 in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. We’ve also supported various proposals to include those who work through their own limited companies.

Director elections

Voting closed yesterday for the Director Elections 2021. I would like to thank Robin Murray-Brown for his support in organising and running the process and I want to thank you, the members, for participating in what is an essential aspect of this membership body. IPSE’s strength ultimately lies in its members and these democratic processes are vital for continuing our tradition of member-led decision-making.

Supporting members through webinars

So far in 2021, we’ve welcomed a record-breaking 4500 registrations to online events covering topics from support with the Self-Assessment tax return to dealing with the upcoming IR35 changes. I am truly proud of how we have adapted to these difficult times to deliver a series of virtual events that have helped both IPSE members and the wider self-employed community.

In January, IPSE ran a series of events aimed at developing skills for the self-employed, called New Year, New Knowledge. These events, which worked to give members various new skills and help them diversify in 2021, proved very successful – with over 1300 attendees in total.

In February, we also had HMRC join us for a webinar for the first time ever – in which we were able to put your questions directly to HMRC. The event focused on IR35, touching on topics such as retrospective investigations, wrong status determinations and employment rights. With over 1000 registered attendees and hundreds of questions, we have now submitted these questions and comments to HMRC so that they can at least get a sense of the confusion and anger that is being felt by contractors.

We will continue with a series of webinars in March, assessing the implications of the March Budget on the self-employed and focusing on further help for IPSE members to prepare for the IR35 changes.

IPSE Incubator

I am also delighted to announce that we will soon be launching the IPSE Incubator, a scheme to support people in the early stages of their self-employed career – or those considering taking the leap into self-employment. With the Incubator, freelancers will be supported by IPSE for 12 months where we will empower, protect, and connect them with everything they need to grow a sustainable business. 

The idea is that new freelancers think of us as their business partner: and we’ll provide them with structured content including monthly templates, guides, and advice to strengthen their business, sales, marketing and financial knowledge. We will be releasing more details on our website in the next fortnight.

Member Referral Scheme

Finally, we are continuing with our member referral scheme and we would urge you to speak to your colleagues and peers about joining IPSE. Our strength lies entirely with you, our members. The more of us there are, the louder our voice and the more effective our campaigning.

Through the scheme you can give your friends IPSE member benefits at a discounted rate and win a reward of up to £50 in Amazon vouchers too. Find out more here.

Thank you for your continuing membership: we could not do this without you.

Meet the authors

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IPSE is the leading association for contractors, consultants, interims, freelancers and the self-employed. We strive to bring our members the most comprehensive and useful range of information and services and all the latest news about what affects your business.
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Derek Cribb