General election 2019: what self-employed freelancers are promised
Now that all three main political parties have published their manifestos ahead of General Election 2019, FreelanceUK can list the pledges affecting the self-employed.
Relevant promises or comments pertinent to the freelance workforce by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats made outside of their respective manifestos have also been gathered by this website.
They too are listed below, and are taken from the parties’ MPs addressing the CBI, the employers’ organisation, IPSE, the freelance trade group and the FSB, the small business body.
- Launch a review to explore how the self-employed can be ‘better supported.’ The review will cover access to finance, credit and mortgages.
- Explore how better broadband can boost home-working.
- Ensure the review into the self-employed extends to looking at “making the tax systems easier to navigate.”
- Review and reform Entrepreneurs’ Relief.
- Postpone a 17% cut in the headline rate of corporation tax.
- Clamp down on late payment and strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner.
The Conservative Party's pledges -- comments and background
The freelance trade group IPSE has expressed disappointment that the Conservatives have not pledged in their manifesto to review IR35 reform – incoming from April, let alone scrap it which is what the group wants.
Speaking to the FSB, however, chancellor Sajid Javid said the party would keep the reforms “under review,” to ensure the changes to the Intermediaries legislation exert the “intended impact.”
Meanwhile, Mr Javid has received a cast-iron guarantee from prime minister Boris Johnson that, if Mr Johnson remains as PM post-December 12th, Mr Javid will remain on as chancellor. The guarantee was tabled to the CBI, which also heard that the Tories will cut National Insurance Contributions. It is not definite that freelancers would benefit, as despite paying more than one class of NI, the cut would be primarily designed to make it easier for employers to take on more staff.
- Seek to develop tailored support and protections for the self-employed, including collective income protection insurance schemes, annual income assessments for those on Universal Credit, and better access to mortgages and pension schemes.
- Tackle late payers, including banning late payers from public procurement.
- Give everyone the right to flexible working.
- Establish a Ministry of Employment Rights, to be responsible for giving everyone full rights from day one on the job; helping end bogus self-employment and banning zero-hours contracts.
- Give everyone who works over 12 hours a contract specifying those hours.
- Introduce a legal right to collective consultation on the implementation of new technology in workplaces
- Extend statutory maternity pay from nine to 12 months.
- Double paternity leave from two weeks to four and increase statutory paternity pay
- Create a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone apart from the genuinely self-employed in business on their own account.
- Tax dividends at income rates (and thereby abolish the lower income tax rate for dividend income)
- Halt the April 2020 rollout of IR35 reform to the private sector.
Labour’s pledges – comments and background
The last pledge by Labour is the most contentious – and flimsy. It was made not in Labour’s manifesto but at IPSE’s self-employed hustings by Bill Esterson MP. Or at least it was hinted at, because the Labour MP for Sefton Central told the hustings that the April 2020 framework ‘must be stopped.’
He later told IPSE through social media that his comments meant Labour would scrap the framework, but the Tweets stating so have now been deleted. Asked by FreelanceUK why the ‘pledge’ is absent from Labour’s manifesto, IPSE said it was seeking clarification.
- Establish ‘dependent contractor’ employment status (proposed by the Taylor Review and previously scrutinised by the freelance sector with mixed responses), to operate in between employment and self-employment.
- Review the tax and National Insurance status of employees, dependent contractors and freelancers to ensure fair and comparable treatment.
- Reviewing rules concerning pensions so that those in the gig economy don’t lose out, and portability between roles is protected.
- Scrap the marriage tax allowance.
- Restore corporation tax to 20%
- End retrospective tax changes such as Loan Charge 2019
- Review April 2020’s IR35 rules
The Lib Dems’ pledges – comments and background
The latter two pledges have been welcomed the most vocally by supporters of the self-employed. Made in the party’s manifesto, the penultimate pledge was discussed on Sky News by media pundit and LBC host Iain Dale. He said that, due to the Conservatives not pledging action against the loan charge, affected taxpayers -- ‘natural Tory voters’ he said, would now invariably vote Liberal Democrat on December 12th.
The Lid Dems’ Ed Davey, a vocal critic of the loan charge, also emerged as freelancers’ favourite MP at the IPSE self-employed hustings, based on polling of a 100-strong audience before and after the debate-- which involved not just representatives from the Lib Dems, Labour and the Conservatives, but also the Brexit Party and The Green Party.
29th November 2019