11-03-2016 - Admin - news - 0 comments

A CROSS-PARTY alliance made up of dozens of MPs have called on the Chancellor to end the raw deal for flexible workers known as contractors.

Their supporters in Parliament have signed an open letter urging George Osborne to launch a wide-ranging strategic review of the legislative framework that governs them. Their aim is to secure equal recognition for Britain’s contractors for the first time.

HMRC and government currently only recognise two types of worker - the self-employed and employed - but there are 1.6m contractors in Britain who do not fit clearly into either category.

The letter, sponsored by the employment intermediary trade body PRISM, has attracted support from a total of 55 MPs including Treasury Select Committee member Helen Goodman MP, Shadow SNP Treasury spokesman Roger Mullin and SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie.

The move comes after an independent review of self-employment for the Government by Julie Deane, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company, last month recommended ministers simplify the tax system.

Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury Rob Marris has already written to George Osborne, declaring “it is now time for HM Government to commission a strategic review of this type of work, in the hope that this will lead to clarity and a simpler tax system”.

If George Osborne does order a review, it is thought planned changed to travel and subsistence relief may need to be delayed.

Labour MP Helen Goodman, a member of the Treasury Select Committee, said: “I support this call for a review of the tax system for self-employed people and contractors, because our current system fails to adequately recognise and support this important section of the work force.

“In our increasingly complex and flexible labour market, more and more people work in a way that is neither traditionally ‘employed’ nor ‘self-employed’, yet our tax system tries to shoehorn them into one or the other category. This denies them the security and advantages they may be entitled to for the convenience of the government.

“It is in everyone’s interests for the hodgepodge, ad hoc arrangements that have been built up to be reviewed, so that a productive and well-functioning system can collect the right amount of tax, as well as protecting workers’ rights and privileges.” 

Crawford Temple, chief executive of PRISM, said: “I thank all those MPs for their support. Calls to simplify the tax regime have come from the Government’s own independent advisor, Julie Deane, the shadow frontbench and a key member of the Treasury Select Committee. The time to launch a strategic review is now before the number of flexible workers being failed by the tax system grows even further. 

“With this level of support it would also seem reasonable for the Government to consider delaying the impending changes to Travel and Subsistence (T&S) pending the outcome of a review.

“It is only right that the tax system recognises the way employment has evolved over the last few decades so everyone knows where they stand and can make informed decisions about where they work, how they are engaged and how much tax they are going to have to pay.

“It is a win-win-win situation for the Government, employers and workers.” 

Text of open letter:

Dear Chancellor,

The number of self-employed people in the UK has reached 4.6million, representing nearly 16% of the workforce and shows no sign of slowing. Yet there are another 1.6 million workers referred to as contractors who are poorly recognised by a tax system which seeks only to place workers in one of two boxes – employed or self-employed.

Successive governments have been clear on the important role these workers play in providing UK businesses with the flexibility they need to succeed but it is not clear to these workers or employers where they fit.

They have been the subject of a sticking-plaster approach that has created layers of confusing rules and no clarity over their tax affairs.

In the last 12 months alone, the sector has been subjected to two significant changes, one in the Finance Act 2015 and the second proposed in the Finance Bill 2016. Further changes to IR35 are also expected in 2017.

It is time for government to conduct a strategic review of this type of employment to meet its aim of a simplified tax system where the labels given to workers are reflected in the real economy.

We believe a well-run review will result in a more orderly market which sees the right workers get the right reliefs, greater tax compliance and increased investment in jobs. The Office of Tax Simplification would be the natural authors of such a review.

We urge you to level the playing field and use a strategic review to end the sticking plaster approach, bring clarity to the most dynamic labour market in the world and give all types of workers a fair deal and equal recognition.



Helen Goodman MP (Bishop Auckland), Member of the Treasury Select Committee

Sir Alan Meale MP (Mansfield)

Sue Hayman MP (Workington), Opposition Whip

Yasmin Qureshi MP (Bolton South East), Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Mary Glindon MP (North Tyneside), Member of the Transport Committee

Jim Cunningham MP (Coventry South), Member of the Scottish Affairs Committee

Rosie Cooper MP (West Lancashire)

Liberal Democrats (LD)

Rt. Hon Tom Brake MP (Carshalton and Wallington), Shadow LD Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip and Shadow LD Leader of the House of Commons

The Lord Palmer of Childs Hill OBE


Philip Davies MP (Shipley), Member of the Justice Committee

Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Worthing West)

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)

Tom Elliott MP (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

Danny Kinahan MP (South Antrim), Member of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Gavin Robinson MP (Belfast East),  Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) and Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)

Plaid Cymru (PC)

Hywel Williams MP (Arfon), PC Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) and Shadow PC Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Europe)


Rt. Hon Angus Robertson MP (Moray), SNP Westminster Leader and Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Constitution)

Stewart Hosie MP (Dundee East), Deputy Leader of the SNP  and Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy)

Roger Mullin MP (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

Hannah Bardell MP (Livingston), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Business, Innovation and Skills)

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP (Ochil and South Perthshire), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Trade and Investment)

Neil Gray MP (Airdrie and Shotts), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment)

George Kerevan MP (East Lothian), Member of the Treasury Select Committee

Joanna Cherry QC MP (Edinburgh South West), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

Ian Blackford MP (Ross, Skye and Lochaber), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Pensions)

Drew Hendry MP (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport)

Stewart McDonald MP (Glasgow South), Member of the Transport Committee

Kirsten Oswald MP (East Renfrewshire), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans)

Stephen Gethins MP (North East Fife), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe)

Mike Weir MP (Angus), SNP Chief Whip

Stuart McDonald MP (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control)

Alan Brown MP (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

Dr Philippa Whitford MP (Central Ayrshire), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Health)

Anne McLaughlin MP (Glasgow North East), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties)

Martyn Day MP (Linlithgow and East Falkirk)

Brendan O’Hara MP (Argyll and Bute), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Defence)

Deidre Brock MP (Edinburgh North and Leith), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Liaison) and Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Devolved Government Relations)

John Nicolson MP (East Dunbartonshire), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

Gavin Newlands MP (Paisley and Renfrewshire North)

Chris Stephens MP (Glasgow South West)

Tommy Sheppard MP (Edinburgh East), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Calum Kerr MP (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Environment and Rural Affairs)

Richard Arkless MP (Dumfries and Galloway), Member of the Justice Committee

Douglas Chapman MP (Dunfermline and West Fife), Member of the Defence Committee

Patrick Grady MP (Glasgow North), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)

Steven Paterson MP (Stirling)

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP (West Dunbartonshire)

Marion Fellows MP (Motherwell and Wishaw), SNP Whip

Dr Paul Monaghan MP (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross), Member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP (Banff and Buchan), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Social Justice and Welfare)

Owen Thompson MP (Midlothian), SNP Whip

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee

John McNally MP (Falkirk), Member of the Environmental Audit Committee

Margaret Ferrier MP (Rutherglen and Hamilton West), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

Patricia Gibson MP (North Ayrshire and Arran)

Chris Law MP (Dundee West), Member of the Scottish Affairs Committee


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