Contractors urged to act to support David Davis MP’s IR35 reform amendment

A top Tory disappointed by the government’s reply to the Lords’ IR35 inquiry today inspires a last-minute push from PSCs to get their MPs to back shelving reform of the rule until 2023.

David Davis MP, who says it is “a pity” the peers were ignored, has tabled a Finance Bill amendment which if backed by enough MPs tomorrow, may delay 2021’s reform to 2023/24.

The former Brexit Secretary’s ‘Ways and Means’ resolution would also, if approved, allow for “a suitable rethink as suggested by the Lords,” says the Self-Employed Alliance (SEA).   

“MPs vote on Tuesday…[on a] private sector IR35 reform amendment to kick it to 2023” said SEA’s chair Dr Iain Campbell, who gave oral evidence to the Lords as an expert witness.

Addressing PSC contractors, Dr Campbell also said: “[Take] urgent action…[email] your MP and ask them to support David Davis MP and vote ‘Yes’ on Tuesday.”

'Devote time to analysing IR35 reform's issues'

Speaking before his amendment, Mr Davis hinted that deferring the off-payroll rules would give officials an opportunity to fix the 29 “difficulties” which peers discovered with them.

“The potential impact of the rules on the wider labour market, particularly the gig economy, has been overlooked by the government,” the former shadow home secretary said.

Reflecting after the peers’ conclusions on Twitter, Mr Davis also said: “It [the government] must devote time to analysing all of this. A wholesale reform of IR35 is required.”

'Contractors' voice heard'

At the SEA but at the Independent Health Professionals Association too, where he is general-secretary, Dr Campbell believes contractors have had their “voice heard” by the Tory MP.

But he wants Mr Davis to go further, and expand the amendment so that, if passed, it would suspend the forerunner to the 2021 reforms – the in-force public sector IR35 rules of 2017.  

Tech contractor Nigel Scragg, another IR35 reform campaigner who petitioned the government to halt the reforms in 2019, is backing the SEA in supporting the amendment.

'Not going to happen'

But not all contractors do. “It’s not going to happen,” wrote one ContractorUK Forum user, referring to the calls to get MPs to support the delay until 2023.

“It [IR35 reform] been a success in [the] public sector, so now it’s time for [the private sector to] take over.”

Alluding to the Treasury’s insistence only a few weeks ago that the April 2021 launch date is unchanged, another PSC added: “[In light of that,] it sounds to me like this amendment would be meaningless.”

'Only way to replace off-payroll rules'

But the legal head of the IHPA, Stephen Mhiribidi, fears tomorrow’s  amendment is the last chance to rid the UK of a set of rules which, already in the public sector, have  “proved to be a disaster.”

He yesterday told ContractorUK: “The [IR35] rules need to go and something else that is fair and just put into place instead. The only way to do this, is for MPs to get this change.”

Children’s minister Vicky Ford is among the many MPs who social media posts show has now been contacted by limited company contractors to support her fellow Tory’s amendment.

But the characterisation of David Davis’ amendment by Mr Mhiribidi’s as ‘the only way’ to replace the off-payroll framework with a fairer alternative, implies he has little faith in the government-promised research into the private sector IR35 rules (currently) scheduled for April 2021.

He is far from alone. “How is this going to be any different from the research that already took place, which they then whitewashed?” asked one unconvinced contractor.

“No different,” answered a second PSC, “it's just words.” Also not optimistic, another said: “Another ‘review’? Because we all know what happened with the last one.”

'It's not too late to email'

Acknowledging IR35 reform’s adverse impact on contractors, as he said many have been “unlawfully blanketed”, Mr Mhiribidi implied it was all the more reason for PSCs to come forward.

“It's not too late for contractors to email their MPs,” the legal expert said last night. “Please do so urgently if you have not already done so. Thanks to all the MPs who have started the ball rolling, and hopefully the rest of parliament will see that this is the right thing to do.”

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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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