BBC hosts IR35 reform 'debate' on Money Box

The debate about whether April’s off-payroll rules for the public sector will be extended to the private sector at Autumn Budget 2017 has made it to the BBC’s Money Box programme.

Broadcast on Radio 4, the programme covered IR35 in its last segment, affording it the most time (about 10 minutes), with contributions from a contractor (‘Jane’), the IFS and the FCSA.

But the host Paul Lewis repeatedly sounds ready to cut short Julia Kermode of the FCSA, which speaks on behalf of contractors. He also interrupts her after making her explain MOO (at about 21.23 of the broadcast).

Lewis makes some assertions too. The off-payroll rules are “a change that does seem to be working,” and he frames lower NICs for both PSCs and clients as a “mutually good wheeze.”

He attempts more than once to bring up but then shake-off the usage of a PSC, potentially for tax reasons, by a former BBC director-general, doing so with humour and even a chuckle.  

As to the stance on IR35 status that the BBC takes now, seven months since the IR35 reforms were made, Lewis volunteers that the corporation is “rapidly reclassifying” its contractors.

Nobody from HMRC is said to have wanted to appear on the programme, which Radio 4 approached ContractoUK via its Forum about, to look for input from contractors.

However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) points out in its part what HMRC often says -- that workers using PSCs will deprive the exchequer of “billions more” in the coming years.

The IFS’s speaker, Helen Miller, may have been referring to the cost of non-compliance in the private sector, which is estimated to increase to £1.2bn a year by 2022-23.

She told Lewis that rather than extending the off-payroll rules to the private sector, the government would do “better” to address the different tax treatment for different workers.

Rhetorically, he sniggered: “Yes, we often say that -- nothing much seems to happen does it.”

Nov 06, 2017