Happy New Year! I hope that you enjoyed a restful Christmas break. Yesterday was my first day back and of course I expected to be busy catching up but I didn’t anticipate a number of external developments to respond to. I outline the key points below; already things are hotting up for a busy year ahead….
Budget date announced
The Chancellor has announced that the budget will take place on Wednesday 11 March 2020 which will formalise spending commitments made in the general election. The five key areas to be targeted include: infrastructure, regions, public services, environment and tax. Relevant changes are likely to include raising the NICs threshold and freezing the planned cut in corporation tax.
My initial reaction to the announced budget date was concern regarding the likely impact on off-payroll reforms that are due less than 4 weeks later. However, it is extremely unlikely that the budget will include a delay to the planned reforms as the government are intent on implementing the reforms.
Off-payroll reforms review
Having gathered my thoughts on the budget timing implications, within hours the government launched their review into the off-payroll changes due in April 2020. According to the statement issued, the review will:
- gather evidence from affected individuals and businesses to ensure smooth implementation of the reforms;
- assess whether any additional support is needed to ensure that the self-employed, who are not in scope of the rules, are not impacted;
- evaluate the enhanced CEST tool and public sector bodies’ experience of implementing the reform in 2017;
- explore whether there are any further steps the government could take to support businesses in correctly determining employment status.
The statement emphasises that the review will focus on the implementation of the reforms, i.e. not the reforms themselves. This suggests that a delay to the reforms is out of the question and therefore concerns about timing of the budget are irrelevant in relation to off-payroll. To me, it seems almost inevitable that the reforms are coming in April, like it or not, therefore we all need to continue preparing.
You can read the published details about the review here >
FCSA will be attending the next IR35 Forum meeting on Friday this week and if we learn any more details about what the review actually entails then we will of course keep you updated.
Labour Market Enforcement consultation
Another key development was announced just before Christmas, which is the annual consultation into the government’s Labour Market Enforcement Strategy. Matthew Taylor (of Taylor Review / Good Work Plan fame) is the current Director of Labour Market Enforcement and FCSA has had several positive meetings with him, in particular discussing the government’s commitment to regulate the umbrella sector. As yet there are no firm proposals and the strategy consultation will be a key opportunity to influence.
The deadline to respond is Friday 24 January 2020. The timeframe is shorter than usual due to political delays last year. It is definitely worth responding because the outcome has an important role in setting the government’s priorities for the labour market, which usually impacts on our members and the wider recruitment sector.
You can read and respond to the consultation here >
This newsletter has much more content than anticipated for my second day back in the office! Clearly lots to keep us busy as we lobby to ensure that our members are heard alongside the wider recruitment and contracting sectors.
I look forward to continuing working with you to ensure a successful 2020 ahead.
Julia Kermode, FCSA Chief Executive