Miliband refuses to reach out to contractors

Ed Miliband has snubbed an invitation by IPSE to take part in a special supplement outlining the main political parties’ pledges to contractors, winning him an unenviable blank page where he would have featured.

Only a few sentences appear in the middle of the page, where IPSE says the Labour leader rejected its “repeated” requests to contribute -- unlike five other party leaders who all feature in the pre-election pull-out.  

In fact, there are ‘freelance-friendly’ messages from David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett and Nicola Sturgeon, making Mr Miliband the “only main party leader not to take up” the opportunity to address contractors.

“Mr Miliband was invited on several occasions to join [in],” added the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE). “[He] decided not to”.

The Labour leader’s refusal to reach out to people who work for themselves (who were slighted by the party in March when it suggested they may be a symptom of a weak labour market) was described yesterday as a “left hook” to the self-employed; much worse than just a “slap in the face”.

In line with the comment, made to a Sunday tabloid, Labour’s 10-point plan to tackle evasion and avoidance suggests that an Ed Miliband-led government would introduce “strict deeming criteria” to tackle self-employment that is “disguised.”

The party’s policy unit is yet to reply to a request for the details, but the head of a Labour small business body told ContractorUK that it “sounds like” an "older" proposal is being dusted off to become a new one.

In particular, on the eve of Labour’s conference in 2013, the party committed to cracking down on ‘false self-employment’ by using deeming proposals that were drawn up under Gordon Brown’s watch.

Under the proposals, which were aimed at the construction sector, all workers would be deemed to be employees for tax purposes unless they met distinct criteria (including supplying materials/equipment and workers) to prove otherwise.

This announcement by Labour in September 2013 to target false self-employment was the culmination of a year-long review which was commissioned by shadow chancellor Ed Balls and announced to the TUC.

At the time, the proposal was welcomed by UCATT, and it is the unions who some commentators now suspect to have motivated Mr Miliband to decide against him showing support for the self-employed.

IPSE says it is “disappointed.” The association was hoping to “hear something positive” about contractors from Labour ahead of the May 7th election, not least because it has spent “a lot of time” engaging with the party about one-person businesses.

Editor's Note: Related Reading -

Self-employed, IT and a techie inspire Miliband

Why Labour looks like losing umbrella contractors as voters

Only time will tell if contractors forgive Labour for dreaded IR35

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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