No mention of reviewing IR35 in Queen's speech

The Queen’s Speech on 19/12/19 stated that the new government will support flexible working and improve worker’s rights, however, there was no mention of reviewing IR35.

Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer said during the General Election campaign that he wishes to review IR35. As this was not mentioned in the Queen’s speech, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has warned the party that it must keep its promise.

Simon McVicker, director of policy at IPSE said:

There was one vital thing missing: IR35. During the election, Chancellor Sajid Javid pledged that the Conservative Party would review the disastrous changes to IR35 due to come into the private sector in April.

Recently, Tania Bowers, general counsel at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) predicted that the Queen’s speech may be used to introduce the review of IR35.

Ms Bowers said:

Irrespective of any review into the roll-out, which may be announced in the Queens Speech, clients should not be complacent given scale of this challenge. Businesses now have a few short months to get ready for incoming changes to IR35 legislation but it seems that many may be ill-prepared.

On 18/12/19 the Conservative MPs,  John Redwood and Andrew Bowie both wrote to Mr Javid reminding him of the promise he made regarding IR35 and to follow up on it.

In response to this Dave Chaplin CEO and founder of contracting authority ContractorCalculator and director of StopThe Off-Payroll Tax campaign, which campaigns against the roll out of the “off-payroll rules” said:

I am delighted to see these MPs responding to campaigners who would have visited and spoken to them to express their concerns. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), in their figures, indicated they had no data on the likely behavioural effect of the Off-Payroll reforms. But, now we do, and the effect is clearly causing colossal damage to all parties in the freelance sector, with projects and work being cancelled, and freelance workers being terminated in droves. HMRC and Treasury were warned this would happen, yet ignored it. The party of business now needs to step in, and correct HMRCs massive error of judgment.

The Queen’s speech did introduce a new Employment Bill, which the Government has said will increase worker’s rights, support flexible working, add to the duration of unpaid carer’s leave and make sure workers keep their tips.

Regarding immigration, a new Australian-style points-based immigration system will be adopted in 2021. This will make the European Union (EU) citizens subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens.

Tom Hadley, director of policy and campaigns at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said:

The election may have given the Government a clear mandate for immigration reform, but it is important that this works for the economy and the public. Record high employment has left firms struggling to find the workers they need, at all skill levels. Our data has consistently shown a shortage of UK workers in sectors ranging from healthcare and engineering to hospitality and agriculture. For homes to be built, for the elderly to be cared for, and for shops to stock the goods we want, we need an immigration system that works for the whole economy.

We hope the Government’s Employment Bill will incentivise business compliance and increase fairness and flexibility in work. Good work and flexibility go hand in hand and REC data shows more people are choosing to do flexible work to better suit their lifestyle. Two way flexibility, that supports businesses and workers’ choices, is vital to a fair and productive labour market. The challenge ahead is to ensure that this works for all parties.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD gave a mostly positive response to the speech, he said:

The plan to create a £3 billion National Skills Fund can go some way towards providing the necessary investment in lifelong learning which is such a key issue given our ageing workforce and the growing impact of new technology on employment and job.

However we also need to see reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to a more flexible training levy so it becomes more relevant and responsive to employers’ skill development needs.

Finally, we are pleased there is a clear commitment to improve further and technical education and planned increases in funding in this area for 16-19 year-old education and in T levels.