IR35 consultation to be published in the coming months

Yesterday I published an article on these pages titled Spring Statement: no news is good news on IR35. We, and many others, had been braced for a consultation document that would lay out the Government’s plans to change the way IR35 works in the private sector – no doubt based on the reforms that were made in the public sector last April. We were temporarily relieved when it didn’t materialise, but a written statement in Hansard does indeed confirm that the issue, unfortunately, hasn’t been dropped.

Buried in the midst of that statement, which announces all of the consultations arising from the Spring Statement, is the following:

In the coming months the Government will publish:

‘Off-payroll working – a consultation on how to tackle non-compliance in the private sector, drawing on the experience of the public-sector reform. The Government will work with businesses and individuals to mitigate the potential administrative burdens of any future changes.’

This isn’t news. The Government said last November that it would consult in 2018. It has now confirmed that consultation will happen in the ‘coming months’. So, we are as we were; waiting to see exactly what the Government has in store, preparing our arguments against it, while not knowing exactly when it will come.

If, as expected, the intention is to extend the public-sector reforms to the private sector, we will vehemently oppose the measure. The problems caused in the public sector have been well publicised, and we will be using that evidence to reinforce our opposition to extending these damaging rules further.

The issue of timing is important. If the consultation is published in the next three months, there is a chance the Government could be looking to get something ready for implementation in April 2019. Otherwise it will likely be the following year. But whenever it’s published, IPSE will be pulling out all the stops to defeat it.

The Chancellor’s tone yesterday was a big improvement from his recent outings, it’s just a shame that he seems determined to pursue this ill thought-out and potentially catastrophic policy.

Meet the author

Andy Chamberlain

Deputy Director of Policy and External Affairs