A vivid local example of the destructive effects of abolishing tax relief on travel and subsistence for flexible contracting professionals is being spelled out by business leaders and politicians in Cumbria.

Awareness is growing among politicians and business leaders that the abolition could have a deleterious effect on local and national business.

Sue Hayman, the Labour MP for Workington, said: “I was shocked to discover the impact that cuts to contractors’ travel and subsistence expenses could have on our local economy in West Cumbria. Local industry relies heavily on contractors and temporary workers, as do our schools and hospitals. We already struggle to attract staff for vital services, and this would do nothing to help the situation.”

Paul Murphy, general manager of an accountancy firm near Cockermouth, warned of the “disastrous” effects of the abolition on plans to construct a nuclear new build at Sellafield. Thousands of skilled personnel, he said, are needed to build a nuclear power station and it would be impossible to source all of them locally. Contractors from outside would have to be recruited, he added, and even then there would be a shortage of skilled labour.

He added: “They are unlikely to accept assignments where they will have to pay out for travel and subsistence – including accommodation – from their own pocket if they cannot claim the tax relief.”

Mr Murphy went on to say that the proposals would severely exacerbate the problem, rendering it impossible to bring projects in on time or within budget.

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