Government set to respond to IR35 petition

A petition to cancel April’s IR35 changes in the public sector has so far attracted more than 16,000 signatures, many of which have been added in the last few days.

If the petition manages to attract 100,000 signatures, the government will consider holding a debate in parliament.

Currently it has attracted only 16,671 signatures, but this is enough to make the government respond, as it commits to do to any petition signed by more than 10,000 people.

Some of the current signatories include the Labour MP Helen Goodman, Tory MPs Jonathan Djanogly, Alan Duncan, Peter Lilley and the speaker of the House John Bercow MP.

They seem to not share concerns over its wording and implications. Posted late last year, the petition did not initially win the support that its creator, Gareth Rowell, must have hoped for.

Entitled ‘Scrap IR35 legislation reform proposals for public sector off-payroll workers,’ the petition is -- apart from this title -- short, as it contains just 51 words (excluding hyperlinks).

It says: “The proposal is to make ‘engagers’ deduct PAYE tax & NIC at source for self-employed people operating via a Limited Company if the end client is in the public sector.”

With similar imprecision, the petition concludes: “This will severely reduce the income of such individuals but confer none of the rights & benefits of a staff employee.”

The explicit focus on income has unsettled some commentators, potentially explaining why yesterday on LinkedIn one person directed users to the petition but captioned it with the words ‘For what it’s worth…’

However the put-down may allude to a more high-profile petition -- one to cancel US President Donald Trump’s first UK state visit, as it seems to have been overruled after the British government said Mr Trump's visit would go ahead despite signatures to stop it by more than one million people.

Jan 31, 2017