Crawford Temple, CEO of Umbrella Company trade association PRISM, addressed a Tory Workers fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week, calling for urgent Government action to reform tax and employment law and improve the lives of ordinary people.
Joining Mr Temple were industry representatives and a senior Conservative MP, who heard him acknowledge that Brexit is happening and must be the best that it can be. However, he also warned the Government that it cannot afford to concentrate on anything but Brexit for the next two to five years.
He said, “Modern employment is complex, and this allows companies to play the spaces in the regulations and tax savings to gain an unfair commercial advantage. We need radical reforms to employment law and taxation of contracting companies now.
“I hope politicians, trade bodies, unions and other key stakeholder organisations come together to tackle the challenges of the gig economy and to get the Government to focus on what can make people’s lives better.”
The event attracted a large gathering. Also appearing on the panel were Conservative MP Robert Halfon, current Chair of the Education Select Committee (and erstwhile Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party), Sophie Gaston (Deputy Director of think tank Demos), Gaby Hinsliff (Guardian columnist), Seamus Nevine (of the Institute of Directors) and Sebastian Payne (of the Financial Times).
The discussion explored the world of contemporary work and the challenges presented by new models of worker engagement, with job-by-job contracting in the rapidly expanding gig economy being prominent among them.
The aim was to figure out how the Government as well as the Conservative Party can make work fairer for all. Solutions proposed by the panel ranged from life-long learning to the role of trade unions, parental leave and tax reform – all aimed at fostering an economy based on “good work.”
Mr Halfon announced that he is launching an inquiry into what makes “good work.” The Tory Workers group will conduct the inquiry over the coming few months, and it will encompass different work streams, including tax reform.
Mr Temple has been, for some considerable time, a prominent professional voice calling for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the tax system to deal with modern employment.
He criticised the Government’s recent review into modern working practices for excluding taxation from its scope, warning that the existing system is too complex and enables the growth of non-compliant solutions that make the job of enforcement exceedingly difficult and costly.
Mr Temple concluded: “We need taxation that is simple and encourages compliance through better enforcement.”