Contractors use intermediaries to tell HM Treasury about umbrella companies

Contractors are sending their views on umbrella companies to groups which will send them onto HM Treasury – safer, it is perceived, than if they email officials themselves, directly.

To save time, and head off any repercussions, 500 contractors have shared their brolly experience with JobsAware, a charity, in reply to the Treasury’s 38 questions on the sector.

'Vested interest'

The charity’s chair Keith Rosser isn’t surprised by the big number of respondents as too often, opinions on umbrellas are “dominated by organisations with a vested interest.”

“The view of workers and contractors is often absent in the debate, yet it is perhaps the most important voice that should be heard,” Mr Rosser also told ContractorUK.

“Working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and HMRC, we plan to submit a worker-centred response to the Call for Evidence.”

'Thoughts on umbrellas'

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed asked its subscribers for their “thoughts on umbrella companies” on Thursday, ahead of the call closing on Feb 22.

Josh Toovey, IPSE’s new research and policy officer said: “We’re keen to understand how members and the wider self-employed feel about [umbrellas], before we submit evidence.”

Similar to JobsAware, which is offering a short poll on umbrella usage, IPSE is running a survey with multiple choice answers. It has provided an email address for comments too.

'Additional identifying information'

The Treasury has its own umbrella Q&A form, but all the questions must be answered, and it is designed to “complement” the wider call for evidence which contains the 38 questions.

And while they are not compulsory, email addresses of respondents are requested by HMT, in contrast to the IPSE poll which says that all participants will be “anonymous.”

Moreover, responding anonymously isn’t set out in the wider call by HMT, which cautions it will collect names, job title, employer, and possibly, “additional identifying information”.

This week, The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group will outline to ContractorUK, exclusively, why it is vital that umbrella workers ensure their views reach HMT, through whatever channel.

'Facilitating conversations for HMRC'

Unlike IPSE and JobsAware, the LITRG is not collating worker-information to submit to HMT, but it is holding a videocall for low paid brolly users who want a voice.

The group’s technical tax officer Meredith McCammond says the upcoming call follows a request by HMRC that LITRG “facilitate conversations with groups of umbrella workers.”

The Revenue has also been in touch with JobsAware too, with the same aim of getting contractors to contribute -- a call which compliance group Professional Passport has echoed.

'Broad but telling'

“[Our poll contains] a formally agreed link to the HMRC detailed survey, to encourage more detailed evidence to be submitted,” says JobsAware’s Mr Rosser.

He explained: “It’s just a shortened version of the worker section in HMT’s main call for evidence which essentially asks workers if they do/did/have thought about working through an umbrella, what the perceived benefits are, and what information they did/did not receive. Hopefully we can draw out some broad but telling statistics.”

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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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