We published this before the last election when the PCG rushed out a Press Release proclaiming that the Tories had promised to abolish IR35. Of course, the Tories when they got into office decided to keep it and then the Chancellor said that they would STRENGTHEN IR35. I think we got it more right than the PCG who were guilty of astonishing naivety. Read the original article.
While correctly criticising and fighting against the Labour Government‘s IR35, the Professional Contractors Group have allowed themselves to be duped by the Conservatives over IR35.
The line that they have been peddling is that if the Conservatives get in then they will abolish IR35 and that was in their manifesto for the last election.
I’ve read the part of the manifesto on IR35 but it doesn’t say what some people are inferring that it said. Basically what they are doing is saying that those awful Labour people have brought in a nefarious tax which is hitting small businesses unfairly – and they would be right.
They, instead, are going to abolish it totally – and being in another ‘much fairer’ tax on small businesses which will only cut out the abuses.
However, they refuse to say what the abuses are, which contractors it will hit, and refuse even to give any details at all except that it will be much fairer than the dirty old Labour tax on contractors.
Come on Lads – Spell it Out
Basically they are saying that there is going to be another IR35. They wisely will give no details on it to allow us to judge how much fairer it will be by ourselves.
What they want us to do is to just concentrate on the “we will abolish IR35” bit and we shouldn’t bother our pretty little heads about this other tax on contractors which will be much fairer anyway and not aimed at us but only abusers.
There may be some who feel that this is satisfactory, for whatever reason, and who will peddle the line that the Conservatives are going to abolish IR35. However I think that there will be quite a lot of contractors who will be a bit suspicious, especially as the Conservatives refuse to give any details about a replacement.
What I want to hear is a political party saying that they will abolish IR35 and that there will be no replacement as it was totally unfair anyway.
Smug as Can Be
The Conservatives must think they are being very clever here. In reality they are not promising anything at all, except that there will be no tax called IR35, although they are not counting out something similar but with another name.
Can anyone explain what a fair IR35-type tax could be and who are the current abusers of the system who need catching by the Conservatives IR35 equivalent?
So, how come the PCG appear to have bought this line?
They really should not be allowing political parties to pack a huge bunch of contractors into their back pocket based on such flimsy promises – if they are promises at all.
We published an article recently which quotes the new Shadow Chancellor, Oliver Letwin, who said that he had sympathy with Dawn Primarolo‘s point of view on IR35 and that there were abuses of the system which need to be stopped.
One suspects that this might well be a common view – especially as the Conservatives refuse to give any details on the ‘˜fairer‘ replacement.
Doing Us No Favours
Those that accept this so easily are not doing contractors any favours. They promise that they will consult the PCG over any new IR35.
They don‘t have to take any notice of what the PCG say. If they win the election ThEY will be the Government and not the PCG. Past experience has shown that parties often forget those nods and winks when they actually get into power.
Their main objective when in opposition is to try to get blocks of voters behind them without promising anything definite.
Nods and winks and ‘we‘ll see you alright’ are not worth anything at all.
The PCG should not peddle the line that the Conservatives are good for contractors without getting anything definite from them. If the Conservatives want the votes of tens of thousands of IT contractors then they will have to spell out what they will replace IR35 with – BEFORE the election.
We‘re not going to fall for vague promises. We‘ve seen too much of that in the past from both main parties.
On this site we have constantly hammered New Labour over policies that are hurting IT contractors and employees like IR35, Work Permits, Offshore Outsourcing etc.
We have criticised Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Dawn Primarolo, Stephen Timms, Beverley Hughes and probably other Labour ministers, some of them severely, over their policies towards those that work in the IT industry.
We are not going to give the free ride to the Conservatives that the PCG appear to be giving them.
Some people have stated in the past that the PCG had a pro-Conservative agenda and come of the originals had connections to the Conservative Party. One of their members, in arguing with me on the ITContractor forum said that 95% of the members of the PCG were Conservatives.
I don‘t know the accuracy of that or not, although I expect that it is a bit overstated.
The spin-off organisation from the PCG, Shout99 consists mainly of PCG members. They recently demanded the PCG‘s database and got it. They now have a poll which shows that only 3% of contractors will vote Labour at the next election – that means that 32 out of 33 contractors will vote against Labour.
Does that reflect more the voting intentions of contractors or of active PCG members?
Labour are right to be pilloried over their legislation that affects contractors. However the Conservatives can‘t be given a free ride over their intentions either. They must spell out their intentions or the suspicion will remain that they have something to hide.
Why would they not tell us?
Possibly because they have an unquestioning PCG in helping to swing the contractor vote behind them without them even having to promise anything definite? That‘s letting them off too lightly.
Perhaps the PCG are happy to curl up like pussycats in the lap of the Conservatives. Perhaps they do think that they can deliver the contractor vote to them.
However, until the Conservatives make some definite promises to contractors and employees, then, to be perfectly frank, I wouldn‘t trust them any more than I would trust Labour or Tony Blair.
The PCG have fought three High Court cases and lost them to the Inland Revenue and the Government. Some people have suggested that there is a certain naivety in their approach.
The fact that they are putting so much of their faith in the Conservatives without any promises, beyond that there won‘t be a tax called IR35 (but something ‘˜fairer‘) doesn‘t give one great hope that they‘ve thrown off that naivety.
They should get out there and tell the Conservatives that unless they are given details of the new IR35-type tax before the election then they are going to assume that it is going to be as bad as Labour‘s tax.
Does anyone really think that the Conservatives, the part of big business despite Tony Blair‘s attempts, are going to be any better than Labour on work permits?
Does anybody really think that the party of big business is going to be any better than Labour when it comes to offshore outsourcing?
The PCG should stop fawning all over the Conservatives and start demanding that they spell out their policies.
We don‘t want a journey into the unknown!