Freelancer’s Advisers Throw Parties’ IR35 Review Pledges Into Doubt (Freelancer UK)

The political parties jostling to win the freelance sector’s vote by pledging action on unpopular IR35 reform is, paradoxically, now turning off freelancers’ advisers and freelancers themselves. In fact, despite the reform being widely criticised by the sector and beyond, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media are full of freelancers disputing the credibility of the parties’ pledges.  The Lib Dems tend to escape the harshest of the criticisms, seemingly because they were the first to pledge action against the reform (a review), and did so in writing in their manifesto.

Just days later, Labour’s manifesto was published with no review vow but, at a self-employed hustings event, the party’s Bill Esterson said the reform should be axed, not just reviewed.’ His Tweets stating such have since been deleted and on Friday, Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey clarified that the party would review the reform and replace it with a “fairer system.”   Almost not wanting to be outdone — and when Mr Esterson’s vow was still seen as being Labour policy, Sajid Javid used a radio appearance to say that the Tories would likewise review IR35 reform.  

The chancellor’s pledge to review the 2020 reform (under which freelance workers will lose the right to decide their IR35 status to their clients), remains absent from the Tory manifesto, however.

 

 Freelancer Confidence Collapses as Economic Fears Take Hold (Freelancer UK) 

Almost every worker in the country is happy with the terms of their employment, despite the rise of “gig” work and a long-running row over zero-hours contracts. Around 99 percent of workers across Britain are satisfied with their contract according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with very minor variations depending on the type of employment. For example, this falls to 97 percent for men in part-time jobs.

It is further evidence that the common opinion that zero-hours agreements are rampant and unpopular is false. The contracts offer flexibility to around 900,000 workers and their employers, but have become the focus of much political criticism in recent years. An employee on zero-hours is not guaranteed a certain amount of work each month – meaning they can do as little or as much as they and their employer decide.

The contracts play a key role in Britain’s so-called gig economy, where firms such as Deliveroo and Uber offer part-time, irregular work. However, zero-hours have come under attack from Labour. The party claims that the agreements allow workers to be exploited and lead to low, irregular pay.

 

Over half of self-employed don’t even know what IR35 is (Small Business) 

Over half of the self-employed in Britain don’t know what IR35 is despite being the people being most affected by it, according to research.

HMRC wants to bring thousands of freelance contractors who are effectively full-time employees within PAYE, in an effort to tackle what the taxman sees is “disguised employment”. Responsibility for assessing the tax status of self-employed contractors is due to shift from the contractor to the company that hires them.

The legislation, which has been heavily criticised by tax experts and business as being poorly conceived, badly implemented by HMRC and could reduce a worker’s net income by up to 25 per cent, is set to roll out in April 2020.

The Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) have all pledged to review IR35 – although only the Lib Dems and SNP explicitly committed to a review in their manifesto.

At the weekend, Chancellor Sajid Javid confirmed the Conservatives would review IR35, telling Radio 4’s Money Box programme, “I value the work of consultants and I want to make sure that the proposed changes are right to take forward.” Javid previously announced the IR35 review at a Federation of Small Businesses hustings last week.

 

Labour backtracks on ‘halt IR35 reform’ pledge (Contractor UK) 

Labour appears to be backtracking on its pledge to scrap private sector IR35 reform, given that now it only “doesn’t think” a Jeremy Corbyn-led government would introduce it.

In an interview on Friday, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey twice said her party would merely “look at” the 2020 reform, so it could seek a “fairer” replacement.

She was asked to give “absolute clarity” on Labour’s stance on the reform, in light of her colleague Bill Esterson deleting Tweets which said stopping the April commencement was party policy.

 

Freelancers are missing out on £24m in tax cuts every year (Telegraph) 

Freelancers are missing out on at least £24m a year in tax breaks, as millions of people let small expenses go unclaimed. There are more than five million self-employed people in Britain who are allowed to deduct certain work-related costs from profits before paying income tax. However, the overwhelming majority of are not taking full advantage of these benefits. Almost 80 percent of freelancers allow business expenses that could be refunded to go unclaimed every year, new research suggests.

Nearly two-thirds of self-employed workers said they don’t bother claiming back expenses of less than £10, with a third not deducting the cost of food when travelling for work and almost a fifth failing to declare money spent on accommodation when travelling on the job. This means tens of millions of unnecessary pounds are going straight to the taxman. These estimates are conservative and the true figure is likely to be much higher. It comes as new tax rules, coming into force in April, are already putting a squeeze on freelancers’ earnings.

  

The gig economy works: 99pc of people are happy with their contract (Telegraph) 

Almost every worker in the country is happy with the terms of their employment, despite the rise of “gig” work and a long-running row over zero-hours contracts. Around 99 percent of workers across Britain are satisfied with their contract according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with very minor variations depending on the type of employment. For example, this falls to 97pc for men in part-time jobs.

It is further evidence that the common opinion that zero-hours agreements are rampant and unpopular is false. The contracts offer flexibility to around 900,000 workers and their employers, but have become the focus of much political criticism in recent years. An employee on zero-hours is not guaranteed a certain amount of work each month – meaning they can do as little or as much as they and their employer decide.

 The contracts play a key role in Britain’s so-called gig economy, where firms such as Deliveroo and Uber offer part-time, irregular work. However, zero-hours have come under attack from Labour. The party claims that the agreements allow workers to be exploited and lead to low, irregular pay. Labour’s manifesto pledges to introduce a ban.