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Reform UK set to “shake up” election with pledge to scrap IR35

Eye-catching plans to scrap IR35 could win over “thousands” of contractors and freelancers, according to IPSE

Reform UK is well placed to “shake up” the general election and win support from the self-employed with its pledge to scrap IR35, according to the UK trade body for the self-employed, IPSE.

Speaking following the launch of the Reform UK Manifesto, IPSE policy director, Andy Chamberlain, said it was likely that the party “will take thousands of votes away from Labour and the Conservatives, who have so far neglected to acknowledge the flaws” of the IR35 legislation.

Reform UK and the Liberal Democrats are the only parties to have focused on IR35 ahead of next week’s election, and both hold a reasonable share of voting intention, according to many opinion polls.

While Labour currently holds a significant polling lead, Chamberlain said the two outside parties have “put the spotlight on IR35”. By putting the legislation back on the electoral agenda, the minor parties could force an incoming government into action over the off-payroll rules, Chamberlain suggested.


Party manifesto aimed at self-employed

Alongside its pledge to scrap IR35, Reform UK has put forward several proposals which IPSE has said are likely to resonate with the flexible workforce:

  • Reduce Corporation tax to 20% immediately, and to 15% later in parliament, while lifting the minimum profit threshold to £100,000 per year.
  • Lifting the VAT threshold to £150,000, to reduce disincentives of VAT registration for small businesses.
  • Enacting “major simplification” of the tax code, which currently runs to 21,000 pages.
  • Increasing the personal tax-free allowance to £20,000, from £12,570.

Such commitments have not been made by any of the major parties in their manifesto launches, though the Liberal Democrats have pledged to review the off-payroll rules if elected.

While the Labour Party has previously indicated it would introduce greater protections for the self-employed – such as action on late payments – IPSE labelled the party’s manifesto “underwhelming”.

The body also welcomed the Conservative pledge to scrap National Insurance for the self-employed, but highlighted that limited company contractors “will not feel the benefits” of such a policy.

As a result, it is not just IPSE that expects Reform UK to win voters from the traditional big two parties, with current voting intention from a range of polling companies showing Reform UK gaining ground.


“No surprise” in popularity of Reform UK

Speaking to Personnel Today, Dave Chaplin – CEO of Contractor Calculator – agreed with IPSE that Reform UK is likely to gain the support of voters with its “ambitious, pro-growth economic policies.”

Typically considered a part of the traditional Conservative stronghold, the self-employed have seen several “damaging policies” enacted by successive governments in recent years.

Chaplin also suggested that many politicians “lack firsthand experience” of running a business, meaning they are “out of touch” and unaware of the challenges facing the self-employed. This detachment has led to the introduction of the off-payroll working rules, among other policies.

However, Reform UK “doesn’t appear to have that same problem”, Chaplin said. Instead, its policies “speak to the small business community, which is the lifeblood of the UK”.

“The Reform party is appealing directly to them, with attractive policies that pledge to reverse the damage heaped on by the incumbent government”, Chaplin added. “It’s no surprise that Reform UK is stealing votes from the Conservatives”, he concluded.

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