This was one of the messages from at a recent seminar organised by contractor legal specialists, Lawspeed, on the new public sector contractor rules.
Adrian Marlowe, MD of Lawspeed said: “I am on record as saying that the legislation is badly drafted and I stand by that.”
Referring in particular to the position that the hirer becomes the fee payer automatically in certain circumstances, Mr Marlowe said: “This is truly extraordinary, and HMRC does not appear to have thought this through. Wherever legislation contains anomalies and ambiguities, HMRC can expect those affected to review their operations, and it is incumbent on us to explain the issues and possibilities that follow. That these rules will cause confusion and disruption in the short term is in no doubt whatsoever, but some clear options do exist.”
The seminar focused on what agencies can do to protect their margins and their commercial relationship with their public sector hirers. Ben Grover, senior legal consultant, sid: “The first thing is to know who you are dealing with. It is critical to know whether a client is a public authority and this may not always be clear. Once you are sure the rules apply then make sure they are followed. For example, use of the terms ‘outside or inside IR35’ has no place within the legislation, and therefore no impact."
Theresa Mimnagh of Lawspeed said: “Another golden rule is to thoroughly check the service provider who is maintaining that it can relieve you of your liabilities. There is a lot of legislation in play in this tax area and what may appear to be a simple solution could turn out to bite you in the back.”
The audience, primarily made up of agencies servicing the public sector, overwhelmingly believed that the new rules are a disaster and will be extended to the private sector in due course, the longest assessment from the audience being within two years.
Mr Marlowe said: "HMRC currently says that it has no plans to extend these rules but early wins for HMRC may change that. However, it is really important that agencies focus on the detail and work with the options that the legislation allows for. By carefully navigating the difficulties that the wording of the law creates, agencies can not only minimise risk but create a long term solution that is acceptable to all parties.”
If you wish to comment on this article, please log in and use the Reply button below. Registering is free and easy - see 'Join Shout99'.
Susie Hughes © Shout99 2017