With controversial changes to the Off-payroll working rules drawing closer, a campaign group has organised a demonstration in Westminster in an attempt to halt IR35 reform.
Led by the lobbying group, Stop the Off-payroll Tax, freelancers and contractors from across the UK will protest outside Parliament on Wednesday 12th February, as they look to have their voices heard.
The demonstration will take place between 11am – 12pm. The campaigners will then march to the Treasury to deliver a letter that urges the Chancellor to end the ‘war on contracting’ and scrap the changes, which will be enforced on 6th April.
In the afternoon, former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron MP, will host a drop-in session in Parliament, where MPs are encouraged to meet constituents who will be impacted by the reform. Mr Farron has tabled a parliamentary motion on the subject.
Given the problems experienced in the public sector following the introduction of similar measures in 2017, the vast majority of contractors and industry experts believe further IR35 reform is unnecessary. This view is strengthened by multiple reports stating that contractors will be forced onto their client’s payroll, as medium and large private sector firms look to sidestep the changes.
After calling on contractors to join him on the day, Dave Chaplin, Director of Stop the Off-Payroll Tax campaign, said the Government must work with the sector, not against it: “It’s time for this Government to work with, instead of attacking UK contracting and we hope MPs will help persuade them to stop the Off-Payroll Tax roll-out and work with the sector going forward.”
Meanwhile, FCSA’s Chief Executive, Julia Kermode, also made her position clear: “It is essential that we join together for this protest so that we can make ourselves heard by MPs who are the only ones with the power to prevent this disastrous legislation becoming a reality.”
The Chancellor was recently condemned by IR35 experts for launching what was described as a ‘lip service’ review into IR35 reform last month. This is something Stop the Off-Payroll Tax are likely to reiterate on 12th February, judging by Mr Chaplin’s comments: “The Government is pushing ahead with the Off-Payroll Tax roll-out despite the damage this is already causing and despite a General Election campaign commitment by the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, to conduct a proper review of the flawed IR35 legislation. Disappointingly, the Government instead announced a short consultation prior to the roll-out in place of a genuine review of IR35.”
The Government was also criticised for insisting that public sector reform has been a success and ignoring “mounting evidence” to show the damage that private sector changes will cause. Looking ahead to the demonstration, this was a point that Ian Cass, Manager Director of the Forum of Private Business, made: “The Treasury simply cannot deny the mounting evidence of the damage the off-payroll roll-out will do, with many contractors being laid off and with projects lost to other countries. Even at this late stage, they need to actually listen to people in the sector and to announce a pause to the roll-out and instead work with contractors, freelancers and businesses to work out how best to recognise and support flexible workers who are so important to the UK economy.”
For more information, please visit the campaign website here.