Contractor industry group the PCG have issued a hard hitting response to government proposals which will impact upon contractors and freelancers working within the public sector. The plans, leaked to the PCG, would “effectively eliminate freelancers from the public sector” according the PCG’s statement.
The plans are apparently in response to the recent reviews into public sector contractors, following the case of Ed Lester of the student loans company, as well as the practices of organisations such as the BBC. They would see freelancers on a daily rate of more than £220 or with a contract over 6 months forced to work within the IR35 legislation or face having their contract terminated.
The PCG suggest that the “draconian measures” would make freelancing almost impossible within the public sector, and describe it as HMRC’s “outright war” on freelancers. PCG managing director John Brazier commented on the leaked proposals, saying;
“The harsh reality of this move will be to remove public sector access to freelance expertise and bluntly threatens to destabilise many Government Departments. It is vitally important the Government does not undermine the UK’s vibrant flexible workforce. The phrase ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ comes to mind when you read these proposals.”
He said the issue has gone way beyond the case of Ed Lester, who he says was clearly a case of false self employment, and is now attacking legitimate contractors who have done nothing wrong. Calling it a witch hunt from a “panic stricken” government and HMRC, Mr Brazier says the repercussions are “potentially catastrophic” adding that contractors are “essential to delivering vital public services and they are being treated in a scandalous way.”
Mr Brazier finished by suggesting that the government do not fully understand the consequences of these actions, and that the PCG “will work tirelessly to protect legitimate freelance businesses in the private sector” and highlight these issues to ministers and MPs.
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