Contractors can expect the IR35 Forum to deliver “real improvements”, according to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies’ (APSCo) Chief Executive Ann Swain. Her positive comments were made as the recruiter organisation accepted an invitation from HMRC to join the newly formed consultative body.
Swain believes that in retaining IR35 the Government has adopted a policy of ‘better the devil you know’. “We appreciate the desire amongst the professional contracting community for clarity regarding IR35,” says Swain, “and we expect that this Forum will deliver real improvements.”
The forum has secured high-ranking government support in the form of Exchequer Secretary David Gauke. In an interview with PCG’s Freelancing Matters, Gauke has sought to allay contractor fears that the forum will be just one more ineffectual talking shop.
“I understand the professional contracting community has concerns about the ability and willingness of HMRC to make substantial improvements in the way it administers IR35,” says Gauke, “but I know that HMRC is committed to a complete overhaul of the way IR35 is administered to address these concerns.”
REC Head of Policy Gillian Econopouly believes the forum “creates an opportunity for genuine improvement [of IR35]” and adds, “It has also been reassuring to hear that there is real support for this body at ministerial level, and we look forward to working with REC members in affected sectors to come up with practical solutions for improving how the IR35 rules are administered on the ground.”
APSCo joins existing forum members PCG, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Bauer & Cottrell’s Kate Cottrell. The IR35 Forum was created to facilitate better administration of IR35 following Chancellor George Osborne’s 2011 Budget decision to retain the IR35 tax legislation in its current form.
The first meeting of the IR35 Forum took place on 6 May 2011. Although, so far, there have been no reports on what was discussed or agreed, it is thought that the first meeting, chaired by HMRC, simply focused on setting out the forum’s terms of reference and objectives.