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Contractor 'Off-Payroll' Lobby Day - Tuesday July 9
by Susie Hughes at 11:45 08/07/19 (News on IR35)
On Tuesday July 9, the Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign is taking its message direct to MPs about the damaging Government plans to roll-out the Off-Payroll Tax to the private sector.
The campaign has organised a Westminster lobby day for contractors and freelancers to ask their MPs to support contracting and the UKís flexible economy and stop this damaging measure being introduced in the Finance Bill this year, as is currently planned by the Government.

The Westminster lobby day is Tuesday July 9, 2:15-6:00pm. Contractors, freelancers and others who can attend and lobby their MP should contact campaign@contractorcalculator.co.uk.

The summary of the responses identifies several fundamental flaws with HMRCís proposals, with experts from the tax, contracting, recruitment and legal sectors warning of the damage that legislating these changes for April 2020 would inflict on the flexible workforce and the UK economy.

MPs are being invited to a drop-in event in Parliament (5-6pm) to hear about the reality of how this ill-considered plan will damage contracting and the UK economy. The drop-in is hosted by Labour MP, Paul Sweeney, Member for Glasgow North East and a Shadow Minister for Scotland.

This will be preceded by a protest outside Parliament, followed by campaigners walking to the Treasury to deliver a letter calling on the Chancellor to listen, stop attacking contracting and halt plans to introduce the Off-Payroll Tax to the private sector; and to instead work with the sector to work out how best to recognise contracting in the tax system.

Contractors and freelancers are being asked to attend and promote the message to their own MPs.

Dave Chaplin, Director of the Stop the Off-Payroll Tax campaign and CEO of ContractorCalculator said: "The Stop The Off-Payroll Tax campaign is going to be taking the message to MPs in Westminster that the Off-Payroll Tax is damaging, flawed and an attack on the UKís flexible workforce.

"We encourage contractors and freelancers and all who support and rely on the UKís contracting sector to come and lobby MPs and ensure that this message is heard. We thank Paul Sweeney MP for arranging the drop-in event and we hope many MPs will come along and hear about the reality of how this stealth tax on business will destroy contracting and deny many businesses the skilled, flexible workforce they rely on.

"Itís easy for MPs to say they support business, yet they need to put pressure on the new Treasury Minister and soon also the new Prime Minister and we hope a new Chancellor of the Exchequer. Itís time for this Government to work with, instead of attacking, UK contracting and we hope MPs will help persuade them to stop the Off-Payroll Tax roll-out and work with the sector going forward."

Summary of the day:
14.15 Campaigners meet outside Houses of Parliament (St Stephenís entrance)
14.30 -15.00 Protest with placards (provided)
15.00 -15.15 Campaigners walk to HM Treasury to present letter
15.30 onwards Campaigners go to visitorís entrance and into the Houses of Parliament
15.45 -16.45 Campaigners gather in central Lobby to meet MPs
16.45 -17.00 Campaigners escorted to MacMillian room
17.00 -18.00 Drop in with MPs hosted by Paul Sweeney.

'Contractor Wednesday' - 1999
It is nearly 20 years since the original campaign against IR35 held its first Parliamentary demonstration 'Contractor Wednesday' - possibly the world's first political lobbying 'flash mob'.

The campaign was being co-ordinated by the then Professional Contractors Group (PCG), who put a 'shout-out' for its members.

The legislation was passing through Parliament in 1999 and was due to be heard again in the House of Commons, after the House of Lords had effectively voted the IR35 out of the Bill.

It was expected that the Commons would push to reinstate it on Wednesday November 3, 1999. On the Friday before, the PCG team decided to use a little-known lobbying tool called 'The Green Card'. This was a facility where an individual could visit the House of Commons, go to Central Lobby, fill in a 'green card' with a request to meet their MP, pass it to the Sergeants-at-Arms, who would then try to find the MP in question. If the MP was available, they would have an impromptu meeting with their constituent.

The PCG team sent an email to its members asking if any contractors were available, prepared to travel to London, lose a day's fees and try to have a personal meeting with their MP to press their own case against what IR35 meant for their business.

With 72 hours notice, the PCG hoped a couple of dozen contractors might turn up and booked a few tables in a local pub for a meet-up afterwards.

In the event, over 800 contractors turned up, Green Cards flew around the Parliamentary chamber, the Sergeant-at-Arms were confused at the numbers and not too pleased, a much larger room had to be found as the then-Tory Opposition spokesman, Francis Maude, held an impromptu meeting, and Tony Blair faced a run-in over IR35 with William Hague in Prime Minister's Question Time.

Those who did turn up met with mixed receptions from their MPs. Some were treated to tea and biscuits in the House of Commons cafeteria; others had quick tours of the House; some had 'a frank exchange of views' and others were ignored - but everyone felt they had played an active part.

Twenty years on - there is a feeling of history repeating itself.

Further IR35 information
For more information about all aspects of IR35, including the controversial 'off payroll' reforms see Shout99's News on IR35 section.

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2019

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