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Network Rail blanket IR35 assessment is 'deeply concerning', warns IPSE

Network Rail’s ruling that 99 per cent of its contractors are ‘inside IR35’ is ‘deeply concerning’, IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has warned.

The information came from an FOI request by the contractor specialist website Contractor Calculator.  

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, commented: “Network Rail’s assessment that 99% of its contractors are caught by the off-payroll rules is deeply concerning. These people will now have to pay tax like employees – without any of the rights.

“The preposterously high ratio raises serious questions about how the assessments have been made. Network Rail has openly admitted roles were grouped together and blanket assessed, which undermines Treasury claims that this has not happened.

“The news also raises serious questions about the Network Rail’s employment practices. If it has 810 individuals who are treated like employees, they should be employees.

“To run the railways that the country relies on, Network Rail need the flexibility that specialist contractors offer. Instead, however, they have been strong-armed into assessing them as ‘employed for tax purposes’ through a mixture of direct pressure from HMRC, a fundamentally flawed CEST tool, and an incomprehensible set of rules on tax status.

“In the NHS, the disastrous changes to IR35 caused chaos and drove many skilled contractors to leave. We could now see a similar situation here. And this is only a taste of things to come when these rule changes are extended to the much larger private sector next year. 

“Ultimately, the off-payroll rules are so unclear even HMRC doesn’t understand them, as evidenced by its utterly atrocious record at recent tribunals. Treasury Ministers urgently need to pause and listen, rather than deciding on a policy then consulting.”

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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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