Enough is enough - 300+ protest IR35 outside parliament
18th Feb 2020
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Never mind Netflix or Amazon Prime, the current fiasco that is the IR35/off-payroll working rules reforms will give you the same twists and turns as any bingeable box set!
I only wrote earlier this month about the much welcomed review into the reforms as promised by the government and was pleasantly surprised that everything seemed to be going to plan.
But fast forward to just days later, February 12th, and there was a protest outside parliament, an actual protest with placards and everything, made up of over 300 people who are against these reforms and are royally peed off! But hang on, wait - how did we even get here? Everything was going so well, right?
Well, yes everything seemed to be on track. We all know that the reforms were to be introduced on April 6th of 2020 but were marred by scandal and ineptitude which led to the launch of a review by the government into the proposed reforms. They finally seemed to be listening to the public's concerns regarding the introduction and implementation of these new reforms.
The latest episode in this saga last week saw the government announcing that, following the review (which is still ongoing), they were going to stick a big ol’ plaster on a gaping wound and announced that changes to the operation of the off-payroll working rules will only apply to to payment made for services provided on or after April 6th 2020. Previously, the rules would have applied to any payments made on or after April 6th 2020, regardless of when the services were carried out. It means that organisations will only need to determine whether the rules apply for contracts they plan to continue beyond April 6th 2020.
Wow, this is GREAT! Right?....said no one. See, this apparent lifeline provides little comfort to the self-employed sector whose heads are already underwater. Delaying the start date to when work is performed rather than paid for might seem a sensible move, but it doesn’t address the inherent flaws in the legislation itself. Nor does it resolve the fact that so many contractors have already been let go by companies who were panicking about the upcoming changes. Or that many have not been able to find work as companies, instead of trying to wrap their heads around the the confusing legislation, are just banning the use of freelancers working through Personal Services Companies altogether.
The fallout from these reforms is now overtaking the good they once set out to do. HMRC estimated that the IR35 reforms would generate an additional £1.2bn in tax for 2020-2021. But this sudden spike in contractors leaving their jobs could see the economy face a £2.2bn productivity gap in just the first half of 2020 alone! Yikes!
Yes, IR35 has lived long enough to see itself become the villain and this has culminated in the recent protests. The people have HAD it and have taken to the streets in a glorious demonstration of democracy and chagrin. What do we want? For ministers to abandon the proposals altogether. When do we want it? NOW!
Stay tuned for the next episode of the IR35/off-payroll working rules saga!