Fighting IR35 is in IPSE’s DNA – and it’s time to double down

We’ve been here before. From a ground-breaking crowdfund and mass ‘Green Card Lobby’, to widespread letter-writing campaigns and legislative reforms in the House of Lords, IPSE has led the charge against the disastrous IR35 legislation since its introduction almost 20 years ago.

As both a founding member of PCG, and now Chief Executive of IPSE, I’ve seen the organisation fight fervently as the legislation has been reformed and tweaked. That fight now intensifies, with the Government releasing on Friday its consultation to potentially extend last year’s ill-judged public-sector changes  to the private sector.

Both until and beyond the 10 August deadline for submissions, IPSE will be embarking on an ardent and concerted campaign to ensure the Government sees sense and refrains from extending what would be a fatal blow to the UK’s flexible workforce.

In the consultation document, HMRC maintain the same dismissive and worrying rhetoric which proves they have learnt absolutely nothing from the widespread chaos that IPSE and other organisations have reported in the public sector.

Similarly concerning is the assertion that "external research on initial implementation shows that the reform has had relatively little impact on projects or vacancy filling in the public sector" – this is both outrageous and wrong.

Furthermore, the Government’s defence of the Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool, is astounding given the number of criticisms about the tool’s complexity and inaccuracy.

The Government repeatedly claims in the consultation document that “genuinely self-employed will not be affected” by the proposals. Try telling that to the numerous contractors who legitimately use a limited company model to supply services and have been falsely accused by HMRC of ‘disguised employment’.

Such glib assertions also fly in the face of IPSE’s own research which suggests swathes of genuinely self-employed contractors are walking away from vital public services – with a particularly worrying effect on the NHS and Transport for London.

For a purportedly ‘pro-business’ political party to embark on such an anti-business consultation – a party which has time and again casually disregarded the crippling impact of this legislation – is a grave concern. And that is why we need to act. 

We will be writing directly to the Chancellor and writing and talking to key Conservative MPs across the country warning of the risks to the self-employed, the economy and even the Government themselves.

The influence of our campaign is not just in our hard-hitting commentary and research, but in both the strength and volume of our case studies. And that is where we need you to help illustrate to Government just how disastrous this legislation will be, not just for our flexible labour market but the entire economy. 

When Parliament returns from recess on 4 June, using our template, we need you to write to your MP making it unequivocal why these proposals – particularly at the height of Brexit uncertainty and before a truly accurate assessment of the new IR35 rules in the public sector have been made – will be so damaging.

Through effective case studies, insightful research and hard-hitting lobbying, IPSE will fight this proposal all the way. As an organisation, IPSE exists to inform Government and create a fair, just and nurturing environment for the self-employed. So, over the coming months, with that environment under threat in the shape of IR35, we will leave no stone unturned in vehemently opposing this inhibiting, anti-business policy.

Meet the author

Chris Bryce

Chief Executive

Chris was one of the original 2,000 members of the organisation when it was formed as the Professional Contractors Group in 1999 and was a long-time contractor with a strong client base in global scale change management.

Before becoming a contractor Chris had a career in sales and marketing followed by 10 years in senior management in the logistics industry. Chris was appointed as Interim CEO in June 2013 and accepted the role permanently in December 2013.