Ahead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s autumn statement, the chairman of the PCG, Julie Stewart, has written to George Osborne highlighting matters of pressing concern to the UK’s freelance contracting community.
Expressing support for the continuing review of HMRC’s administration of IR35, Ms Stewart pressed the chancellor to offer clearer guidance on the meaning of the term ‘office holder’; currently, she explained, its ambiguity is “creating the potential for significant uncertainty amongst businesses looking to engage with senior consultants.”
Tackling the vexing issue of ‘off-payroll’ workers in the public sector, Ms Stewart drew the chancellor’s attention to the inconsistent use of the term from one department to another, which the PCG believes is subjecting skilled freelancers in the public sector to “huge uncertainty and inaccurate advice concerning their tax status.” She called for more complete guidance in the autumn statement.
Ms Stewart also invited the chancellor to increase funding for the rollout of 4G technology and to introduce incentives to mobile carriers to increase their support for the technology. She wrote: “This would be a vital move, which will enable businesses to work anywhere, flexibly – a defining feature of the freelance workforce.”
Finally, she urged the chancellor to firmly tackle the problem of late payments to freelancers and to end the abuse of inter-company transfers, which she said “harm the IT skills base of the UK and displace hard-working UK freelancers.”
She concluded her letter with reference to Kingston University’s research, which found that freelancers contributed £95 billion to the economy in 2013.