Royal Bank of Scotland denies ‘pro-contractor’ IR35 reform policy

Royal Bank of Scotland has distanced itself from an email that the bank was said to have sent to its PSCs outlining how to stay outside IR35, ahead of the rule’s reform next April.

An RBS spokesman, who was contacted before ContractorUK went to press with the email but was unable to respond in time, has also now denied that a ‘pro-contractor’ IR35 reform policy is in place at the bank.

“We are currently working through the potential impacts of the legislation and we are still forming our position”, the RBS spokesman said, taking issue with the July 1st article. 

'The right answer'

Professional tax advisers have expressed concern too. “What RBS will want is the right answer that balances risk and reward,” one adviser wrote on the ContractorUK Forum.

“That will involve discussion with contractors, agencies, recruiters, payroll, tax functions in the bank. The IR35 rules never have and should never be used to achieve subjective results.”

As well as the ‘RBS email,’ which ContractorUK has obtained a copy of, the RBS spokesman claimed that its wider stance on IR35 reform had not been portrayed correctly. 

'Continue to engage contractors'

But the bank's spokesman yesterday signalled that the ‘cease and desist’ PSC model to help head off IR35 reform, in place at HSBC and other financial firms, was not in RBS's pipeline. 

In fact, in line with the source’s claims which prompted their ‘pro-contractor’ characterisation of the bank, RBS said: “We will continue to engage contractors in line with these new rules.”

The single but significant caveat to this ‘continue to engage’ PSCs plan is publication of the draft off-payroll legislation for the private sector, ‘which we will respond in line with,’ the bank's spokesman said.

'Permies don't have the skills'

Last night, the source said they stood by their initial claims. “It wasn’t sent out from RBS’s central function,” the banking insider said of the email, speculating on RBS’s denials about writing and sending any communication to contractors about IR35. “But it was sent from leads on our programme.”

As to RBS’s non-cease and desist PSC plan, the source sounded unsurprised, saying: “The bank's permie staff simply don’t have the skills, especially in IT and migration work. It’s just not there.”

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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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