CEO update September: The support debacle, threatened tax rises and IPSE leading the fight

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There’s no doubt September has been a worrying month for all of us, as we face the steady march of the second wave of coronavirus. It has been particularly concerning for the self-employed, however, as two serious threats have risen for them: a lack of support during the second wave and also the prospect of unfair tax rises. Rest assured, IPSE is leading the charge against both – and at the same time doing more than ever to support our members.

Protection and advice in difficult times

One positive note at the start of September was the publication of our Impact Report. This outlined not only the work we’ve been doing to campaign for the self-employed, but also the benefits we have given our members, the new support we’re offering and the new ways we’re finding to get members involved in IPSE.

Our new benefits include heavily discounted access to Markel’s Law Hub, which contains numerous guides, as well as hundreds of template contracts and letters. We’ve also created a Facebook group to bring members together, a LinkedIn showcase to boost freelancers’ achievements and a member-exclusive library of all our past webinars. You can also expect new cyber security support soon as part of the IPSE package. Watch this space.

Impact in action

The other key aspect of our Impact Report was a round-up of the campaigning work we have been doing over the last year to make sure the voice of the self-employed is heard. This month, after the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan, we gave a clear example of that campaigning in action.

While the Chancellor offered a new support scheme for employees, the “plan” for the self-employed was simply extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – but this time at 20% of earnings. Worst of all, there was still no change to the criteria, despite the Treasury Select Committee pushing our recommendation to support limited company directors. The government is therefore still leaving out one in three self-employed – on top of the serious concern that the 20% is neither targeted at those most in need nor is it likely to be anywhere near enough.

I appeared on Sky News pushing the case for opening up the criteria for support to limited companies and the newly self-employed. Our comments also led articles in the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and were cited in dozens more newspapers. They were even quoted in the House of Commons. This is just the beginning, though: we will keep pushing for support for the UK’s vital se

lf-employed community.

Fighting freelancer tax injustice

Earlier in the month, we heard yet more concerning rumours the government is considering tax rises on the self-employed – supposedly to pay for SEISS. However, with a third of the self-employed not even able to access SEISS, this is surely the worst injustice. Even if so many self-employed weren’t frozen out of support, parity of taxes between employees and the self-employed would still be wrong because of the much greater risks the self-employed take on. We have begun a forceful campaign against any such tax rises.  

Related to this and the changes to IR35 that we are still pressing against, later this month, I will be appearing in the Treasury Select Committee’s witness session on the future of employment taxation. I will be pushing against tax hikes on the self-employed and making the case for a full review and reform of the tax system to make it fair for the self-employed and employees alike – reforms that would make IR35 redundant.

There are other things on the horizon to be optimistic about too. At IPSE, we’re keen to influence the government not just in terms of legislation, but also their own hiring practices. This week, therefore, we’ve begun very positive conversations with the Crown Commercial service about reforms to give the self-employed and small businesses more access to government contracts. We’ll have a full update on our website soon with news about these exciting developments.

After the glimpse of normality in summer, we may be returning to uncertain and troubling times. However, you can rest assured that whatever comes this autumn and winter, IPSE, the only dedicated voice for the UK’s self-employed, will be here to push your interests and fight your corner.

Meet the author

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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.