Media freelancers to get new IR35 guidance from HMRC

Quite apart from IR35 guidance tailored just to off-camera workers, the UK media industry’s entire freelance workforce stands to receive their own new guidelines on the legislation, a new report suggests.

In highlighting the response of the BBC to their recommendations on equal pay and other issues at the corporation, MPs have, in effect, signalled that any new IR35 materials from HMRC will extend beyond just broadcasting freelancers.

Until now, these off-camera creatives were understood to be at the heart of talks between HMRC and BBC over IR35 -- talks which FreelanceUK revealed in June as being conducted behind close doors at the highest level.  

But in a freshly published 28-page document, MPs on the Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport Committee cite the BBC’s response to their recommendations, and it indicates that camera workers will be represent just a tiny contingent of the many freelancers potentially affected.

According to the report, the BBC says: “We are working with… HMRC to develop a set of updated guidance [on IR35] that works for those engaged in the media.”

So rather than just affect off-screen creatives like boom operators, or even on-screen talent like TV presenters, the HMRC-BBC talks -- and the resulting material -- is set to update the IR35 landscape for all freelancers serving the media and its many formats.

In the meantime, the BBC told the MPs that it is in “ongoing dialogue” with HMRC to resolve outstanding status issues and clarify arrangements for the creatives it engages who are affected by IR35, whom it acknowledged have suffered “uncertainty.”

“We have set up a confidential helpline and hardship fund and are working with those affected at an individual level and via the BBC’s recognised unions.”

The BBC also told the MPs: “We have also worked collaboratively with the unions, individuals and their representatives/agents to establish new sets of contract terms.”

Elsewhere in the report, the committee said it wants the BBC to publish the salaries of BBC Studios staff in its upcoming 2018/19 Annual Report, as well as those of high-earning presenters of other programmes made for the BBC by independent production companies.

Justifying their wish, the MPs said: “We do not accept the argument that publishing data from independent production companies would put the BBC at a competitive disadvantage.

“The BBC, as a publicly funded body, has a responsibility to lead on issues of pay and transparency. In any case, applying a transparent policy would help, not hinder, the BBC.”

The MPs added: “The BBC’s reputational strength is such that we do not believe that independent production companies would stop working with the corporation for this reason.”

Editor’s Note: Related –

BBC ‘paid Ltd workers £4million more during internal crackdown’

BBC in IR35 battle ‘forced to use a limited company’

Freelance company actor faces £150,000 tax bill


28th January 2019

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