Fighting IR35: how to get involved

With the Government’s IR35 consultation out and the cross hairs firmly homed in on contracting in the private sector, for the sake of our flexible workforce and the wider UK economy, we must stand and defend ourselves. 

To make the Government see sense and prevent the catastrophic extension of this inhibiting legislation, we need a louder voice, shouting in unison. That’s why we need you.

Across our near 20-year history, many of PCG and IPSE’s most significant policy victories have come by the persuasiveness, passion and strength of you, our membership.

Here are three ways you can get involved.

Case studies

First, we need anyone willing to act as a case study to contact the Press Office via pressoffice@ipse.co.uk. Through case studies in the press and targeted at MPs, we want to provide tangible and compelling evidence of the legislation’s damage in the public sector and the potentially disastrous impact it would have if extended to the private sector.

Key messages

Using blogs and social media, stress the damage using some of our key messages below:

  • Shifting the IR35 burden onto public sector employers has hurt the self-employed, causing waiting lists in the NHS and delaying public projects in Transport for London. Due to regulatory change, IPSE’s Confidence Index has seen confidence amongst the self-employed slump to its lowest ebb since the survey began in 2014.  
  • The courts have found against HMRC in two out of three cases this year alone, illustrating that IR35 is so complex, not even HMRC can determine who it applies to. It also makes a mockery of the Government’s claim that the genuinely self-employed won’t be affected by the proposals.
  • Now, alarmingly, the Government is proposing to shove that impossible task on to UK businesses. This is compounded further by the fact that the Government is doing so before the full impact of the ill-judged changes in the public sector have been truly analysed.
  • The Government’s own research showed that over half of public sector agencies found the off-payroll rules difficult to comply with, largely because of HMRC’s CEST tool. The tool has been criticised in evidence to Parliament while many stakeholders have constantly told HMRC it is not fit for purpose.
  • This proposal would allow big companies to treat individuals as employed for tax purposes, without giving them employment rights.  
  • Research undertaken by IPSE and Kingston University found that the UK freelance workforce contributed £125bn to the economy in 2017. That vital contribution is put at risk by this proposal.
  • Businesses are already nervous about investing in the UK because of the uncertainty caused by Brexit. This proposal would restrict their access to the flexible expertise they rely on to complete projects, making the UK a less attractive place to do business.

Letter writing

Once Parliament resumes after recess on Monday 4 June we would urge you to write to your MP stressing the risks of extending the changes to IR35 in the private sector to both you and the UK economy. We will soon provide you with a template letter.

Conclusion

Through both the strength and volume of our case studies, letters and social media presence, we will effectively convey the damning evidence to the Government.

Because now, more than ever, the UK needs a flexible, innovative and highly-skilled workforce to deliver projects and drive the economy forward against the current uncertainty of Brexit.

The Government’s proposals are undermining confidence and making the UK less competitive at a time when it should be supporting, not attacking, the self-employed.

With the Government taking aim at the self-employed every time it wants to fill a revenue black hole, it’s little surprise the self-employed are constantly looking over their shoulders wondering how, when and where they will be next attacked by a supposedly ‘pro business’ Government.

The time has come to tell the Government that we will not take any more and show that the near five million self-employed are a force to be reckoned with. With your help we will stop this!

Meet the author

Simon McVicker

Director of Policy