Contracting is a policy priority, Labour told
Labour is being called to draw up a contractor-centric policy framework in time for its annual conference, where a freelancing charter and three key proposals for such independent workers will be tabled.
Sounding the call, the Labour Finance and Industry Group said it wanted freelancing and contracting to be put at the heart of the party’s policy agenda, so the growing number of self-employed people can have a framework dedicated to themselves.
In a report prepared for the party, the LFIG says the framework could take the shape of a ‘Freelancers’ Charter,’ sort of an “operating model” upon which future policies for freelancers and contractors could be developed.
Three potential ones have already been put forward by LFIG to Labour: First, that it should encourage and “where necessary” assist private sector representatives of freelance professionals so “common ground,” and then a ‘common voice’, can be found.
Second, that a minister should be appointed (albeit not full-time) with direct responsibility for freelancers, partly to reflect their importance but mainly to ensure their needs as members of the workforce are being addressed.
Third, explore the formation of a Special Freelancer Limited Company, ‘FLTD’ for short, which would be designed to “allow some of the onerous and unachievable requirements of IR35 to be toned down.”
According to the report, the envisioned company would be a limited liability, sole trading vehicle, required to have no more than one shareholder but would not need concurrent clients or the ability to send a substitute.
The “well thought-out” proposal came about after discussions with freelance groups; trade unions, management consultants, IT workers, tax specialists and accountants, among others, says LFIG member Philip Ross.
He added: “For too long policies of all parties have focused on the extremes of the freelance economy, tax avoidance on one hand and forced self employment on the other.
“This report focuses on the forgotten middle, genuine freelancers, a market that is as broad as it is wide. It offers a proactive agenda as opposed to reactionary one that will help freelancing flourish.”
The report’s authors believe that, thanks to their 20-page document, Labour now has the chance to “seize the initiative and clearly differentiate itself as the most progressive and innovative party in this area.” The report, ‘The Freelancing Agenda,’ is due to inspire a special fringe event at the party’s conference, scheduled for this month in Manchester.