The PCG chairman Chris Bryce has issued a call to arms in an open letter to PCG members, inviting them to support the case for a judicial review into the government’s handling of public sector contracting.
He was addressing the recent requirement for all flexible workers contracting in the public sector to provide government departments and their executive agencies with clear assurances that their tax obligations were being met. According to Mr Bryce, what seemed like a reasonable request has in practise caused a great deal of disruption, confusion and damage.
The PCG has received evidence that its advice to limited company contractors on how to provide these assurances is being ignored by public sector departments and agencies. The organisation had recommended to its members that an independent contract review should suffice as evidence; however, government departments, Mr Bryce states, appear to be refusing to accept the validity of the reviews.
As a result, growing numbers of contractors are being threatened with contract termination or being forced to operate with IR35 or move to Umbrella Companies.
Mr Bryce continues: “PCG considers this practice to be unacceptable and has taken legal advice. We do not believe that a government department has the right to force our members to operate IR35 if their contracts are outside IR35. We want to challenge this by a pursuing a judicial review and we need members to come forward to supply us with real cases and allow us to represent them.”
Many flexible workers, it should perhaps be noted, are not ‘forced’ to use Umbrella Companies but do so willingly, thereby having no difficulty with paying all due tax and NICs on a PAYE basis.