IR35 changes go ahead despite no Queen’s Speech mention

IR35 being omitted from the Queen’s Speech is not grounds to think the government has added the legislation’s reform to the heap of measures it ditched yesterday.

So despite the speech making no mention of the reform, known as the ‘off-payroll’ rules, the framework will not join the now-scrapped Tory pledges; including those on fracking, free school lunches, pensioner benefits, fox hunting and social care reform.

Measures to permanently enshrine the rules’ introduction are contained in one of three finance bills that the Queen referred to as “other measures,” notably Summer Finance Bill 2017 which notes on the speech confirm will “tackle avoidance.”

Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will soon begin debating the government’s plans (the Queen’s Speech is penned by the government), after which MPs get to speak on “any matter” of government they wish.

This raises the prospect that the April 6th rules for the public sector may be scrutinised, following concern that previous occasions for parliament to examine them were curtailed due to the snap general election.

Other parts of the government’s legislative programme for the next two years, read aloud by the Queen (so in italics, below), with the potential to affect contractors include:

Brexit

Eight of the 27 bills announced by the Queen yesterday relate to Brexit.

The showpiece designed to convert the EU's law into UK statute, the Great Repeal Bill, has been renamed as simply the Repeal Bill. The removal of 'Great' tallies with the more humble, conciliatory tone being struck by prime minister Theresa May.

Other Brexit bills include the Customs Bill, Immigration Bill, Trade Bill and Sanctions Bill.  

Referring to them, the Queen said the priority of the government was to secure the “best possible deal” for the UK.

That means “certainty for individuals and businesses,” and “a deep and special partnership with European allies,” but also “new trading relationships across the globe”.

Jobs, Skills & Work

“My ministers will strengthen the economy so that it supports the creation of jobs and generates the tax revenues needed”.

After announcing this, the Queen said the government would be enhancing the rights and protections in the modern workplace, while keeping taxes low.

The enhancement will come to light when the Taylor Review reports -- which the government says it is looking forward to receiving shortly.

IT, Technology & Online

Under the Data Protection Bill, rules will pass to:  

  • ensure that the UK’s data protection framework is “suitable” for the new digital age
  • strengthen rights and empower individuals to have more control over their personal data including a right to be forgotten when individuals no longer want their data to be processed (provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it)
  • establish a new data protection regime for non-law enforcement data processing, replacing the Data Protection Act 1998
  • modernise and update the regime for data processing by law enforcement agencies.

Introduce legislation to ensure the UK remains a “world leader” in new industries, including electric cars and commercial satellites.

Bring forward a new bill to deliver the next phase of HS2.

Under a new digital charter, proposals will be brought forward to ensure that the UK is the “safest place” to be online.  In addition:

“My ministers will work to ensure people have the skills they need for the high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future, including through a major reform of technical education.”

Investment property

“Proposals will be brought forward to ban unfair tenant fees, promote fairness and transparency in the housing market”.

This means landlords will be banned from requiring tenants to make any payments as a condition of their tenancy with the exception of the rent, a capped refundable security deposit, a capped refundable holding deposit and tenant default fees.

Holding deposits will also be capped at no more than one week’s rent, as will security deposits -- to be restricted to no more than one month’s rent.

However, the bill to enact the above measures affecting landlords and their tenants is only a draft, so it is not definitive that the measures will be contained in a finished piece of law by 2019.

Mortgages

Under the Goods Mortgage Bill, the government will:

  • increase protections to borrowers who have taken out a mortgage on goods that they own, such as their car (a ‘logbook loan’)
  • ensure borrowers are better informed about their loan and provide safeguards if borrowers get into financial difficulty.

Government bodies and spending

  • Meet the NATO commitment to spend at least two per cent of national income on defence
  • Commit to spending zero point seven per cent of national income on international development.
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