CAMPAIGN BREAKTHROUGH: Labour Shadow Business Secretary Cabinet announces Labour would halt the Off-Payroll Tax roll-out

6 Dec 2019

In another breakthrough for the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign, Shadow Secretary of State, Rebecca Long-Bailey has announced in a radio interview that Labour would halt the Conservatives proposed roll-out of the Off-Payroll Tax and review the controversial IR35 legislation, if they win the election.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, who has been Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy since February 2017, made the commitment on BBC Five Live this morning in response to questions from Rachel Burden. 

Rebecca Long-Bailey committed to “look at” IR35, but when pushed by Rachel Burden, did finally confirm that Labour would halt the Off-Payroll Tax roll-out to the private sector. She appeared to suggest such a pause was policy, but needed to be pushed by the interviewer. Rachel Burden asked whether to not IR35 would apply to the private sector from April 2020 and at last Ms Long-Bailey clarified  “we don’t think IR35 is appropriate, so no”.

The key part of the exchange is as follows:

Rachel Burden (Radio 5 Live):

So, you’re gonna look at, but there’s no absolute commitment as to whether you are going to scrap it for the private sector.

Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour):

No, there is

Rachel Burden (Radio 5 Live):

So, just for absolutely clarity, under a Labour Government, this would not apply in the private sector from April 2020.

Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour):

Well, certainly we don’t think it will, no, but we need to have a system in place that is fair.

Rachel Burden (Radio 5 Live):

That’s not absolute clarity…

Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour):

Well, it is, absolute clarity, but what we are saying is that we need to consult on a system that is fair for those businesses, but we don’t think IR35 is appropriate, so no.

Last week, on 26th November, the Stop The Off-Payroll campaign wrote to Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell seeking to clarify Labour’s position following a hustings event and subsequent tweets when Labour shadow minister Bill Esterson also stated that a pause and review was Labour Party policy. However the tweets were subsequently deleted, leading to confusion as to the official position, which now appears to have been confirmed by Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary.

This announcement from Labour is a testament to the powerful campaigning of over 2000 Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaigners, who have been lobbying MPs and election candidates asking them to support the UK’s flexible workforce and back the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign. 

In the previous Parliament, several Labour MPs, notably Paul Sweeney, Ged Killen, Ruth Cadbury and Faisal Rashid all were leading figures in supporting contracting and raising concerns about the Off-Payroll Tax roll-out. Yesterday, 5th December, Labour’s candidate for Barnsley Central and Labour Mayor for the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, became the latest Labour MP to sign up to back the Stop The Off Stop The Off-Payroll Tax candidate commitment.

This announcement from the Labour is the latest positive development from a political party on this issue. The Liberal Democrats have also confirmed that their policy is to halt the roll-out and review IR35 and the SNP also have committed to a review. Sajid Javid announced that the Conservatives would hold a review of IR35 as part of their review into self-employment, however he and they have so far failed to state that they would pause the IR35 roll-out. With such a pause, any IR35 review would be meaningless and contractors have expressed concerns that the announcement was merely a cynical election stunt. The Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign have written to the Chancellor asking for the commitment to pause the roll-out, but have not yet received a reply.  

The Off-Payroll Tax will damage business in the UK and will see many contractors and freelancers losing their jobs and (according to HMRC) over 150,000 being forced to accept lower pay of up to a quarter.   

Commenting, Dave Chaplin, Director of the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign and CEO of ContractorCalculator said:

“It’s a big breakthrough that now the Labour Shadow Business Secretary has announced on BBC 5 Live that Labour would halt the IR35 Off-Payroll Tax roll-out and review how best to recognise contracting and freelancing in the tax system.  

“This is another campaign success and is a testament to the efforts of the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaigners in lobbying election candidates. It’s pleasing we now appear to have confirmation of Labour’s position, following the great support from the likes of Paul Sweeney, Ged Killen, Ruth Cadbury and Faisal Rashid, all of whom raised this issue in Parliament. 

“So the spotlight turns once again to the Conservatives and to Sajid Javid, who still appears unwilling to give businesses and contractors the certainty they need by announcing a halt to their damaging Off-Payroll Tax roll-out.  Any genuine IR35 review must involve halting the roll-out to the private sector, so Sajid Javid must now make that absolutely clear, if the Conservatives want to win back the trust of the UK’s contracting and freelancing community. Unless they do this, then Conservative claims to be the ‘party of business’ are hollow, so it’s time the Conservatives ended their damaging and perverse ‘war on contracting’.  

“The Off-Payroll Tax is now a real election issue, so we urge the whole sector to come together and back the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign. We urge contractors, freelancers and sector organisations to join our 2,000 campaigners and lobby every single election candidate, asking them to help stop the Off-Payroll Tax.”


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