Articles - 27th November 2019

Labour and the Liberal Democrats reconsider IR35

Words by Emily & Jack

Labour pledges to halt IR35 in private sector at IPSE event (Politics Home)

Bill Esterson, Labour’s Shadow Small Business Minister, confirmed at an IPSE and small business debate last night that if elected, the party would halt the roll-out of the changes to IR35 into the private sector next April.

At the Freelance and Small Business Debate, organised by IPSE and others, Mr Esterson said: “We absolutely can’t see it rolled out into the private sector the way things are at the moment.”

Asked later to confirm it was Labour Party policy to review IR35 and not roll the changes out to the private sector in April 2020, he tweeted: “absolutely”.

At the event, Mr Esterson also said: “We need to support the self-employed in this country. We need to make sure that our tax system is diverse so that it matches the needs of being self-employed and is also consistent with the risk that is taken.”


Self-employed switch sides to back Lib Dems at small business election debate (The Times)

Sir Ed Davey, the party’s deputy leader, was the big winner of the event held in the City, with 54 per cent of the audience of more than 100 small business owners, investors and freelancers backing him at the end of a Question Time-style debate with political rivals.

Rather than any great enthusiasm for their stance on self-employment, the Lib Dem victory may be down in part to frustration over Brexit among a Remain-leaning audience, as well as anxiety over Labour’s plans to increase business taxes and frustration over government policy towards those who work for themselves.

According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, which organised the hustings with Enterprise Nation, a small-business network, confidence among freelancers is at a five-year low because of concerns about the economy and anxiety about new rules that mean many of them will face a higher tax bill from next year. 

He won support for his attack on the “quite shocking” loan charge scandal, in which freelancers have received unexpected tax bills running into tens of thousands of pounds, and said that IR35, a law imposing additional taxes on the use of contractors, would hurt the self-employed.


Uber loses licence to operate in London (BBC News)

Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

The regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.

Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expires on Monday. The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process.

London is one of Uber’s top five markets globally and it has about 45,000 drivers in the city. Overall, there are 126,000 licensed private hire and black cabs in the capital. TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” in London that placed passenger safety at risk.

These included a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.

It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said.


Freelancers twice as likely to suffer from depression than office workers, study finds (Yahoo Finance UK)

Freelancers are twice as likely to suffer from depression than office-based workers, research suggests.

In a survey of 1,500 Brits, conducted by office stationery and furniture suppliers Viking, nearly three in five (56%) of freelancers admitted to struggling with depression as a result of their job, compared to just three in 10 of those who work out of an office.

This is likely a result of spending long days working alone, with 64% of freelancers saying they regularly feel lonely due to their work.

In fact, 53% of freelancers cited “feeling lonely at work” as one of the worst aspects of being a freelancer.

A lack of support for mental health issues was also one of the most-cited issues, showing that freelancers feel unsupported in this area.

The study found freelancers are more likely to feel stressed due to work, at 62%, compared to 55% of office-workers.


Millions of self-employed struggle to get a mortgage because banks don’t understand their work, experts warn (This is Money)

Although there are 4.8 million self-employed workers in the UK, Mortgage lenders are failing to understand self-employed sectors finances, meaning that millions won’t be able to own a home. Research undertaken by mortgage broker Trussle shows that around three-quarters of self-employed borrowers believe it’s harder to get a mortgage because of their employment status.  

Ishaan Malhi from Trussle said: ‘Our way of work is changing but our mortgage systems have stayed the same. What was the homogeneous self-employed worker of yesterday is not the self-employed worker of today and certainly not the worker of tomorrow.

‘Lenders need to be more sophisticated about how they define the different types of self-employed borrowers. Their systems aren’t sophisticated enough to cope with the complexity of today’s self-employed market.’


Labour manifesto 2019: Genuinely self-employed exempted from new worker status proposal  (Contractor UK)

A new employment status ‘for everyone apart from individuals who are in business on their own account’ is Labour’s most relevant 2019 manifesto pledge for the contractor sector.

The party’s proposal is reminiscent of the ‘dependent contractor’ category and the Freelancer Limited Company proposal because, like those, it involves creating a fresh status of worker.

Similar to these two now-dropped models (tabled by the Taylor Review and IPSE respectively), Labour’s single, yet all-encompassing worker status is not ignorant of IR35.

In fact, taking words straight from IR35 case law, the party says the new status would apply to all workers except people “genuinely self-employed in business on their own account.”

In the wake of the Lib Dem vow to review April 2020’s IR35 regime, for example, the FSB embraced it, saying a “wholesale delay” should be a Jo Swinson-led government’s “starting point.”


Labour takes aim at gig economy companies (Press Association)

The Labour Party’s new proposal to ban anyone from claiming to be self-employed unless they work for their own business, could affect companies like Uber and Deliveroo who rely on a self-employed workforce. The Party pledged to call an end to “bogus self-employment and create a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone apart from those genuinely self-employed in business on their own account”.

This, Labour said, would ensure “employers cannot evade workers’ rights”. On Thursday Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “How can any government claim it cares about our country when it cares so little about the people who live here?

“No-one can deny the thirst for real change in Britain. I believe that was a driving force behind the EU referendum vote in 2016.”

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