When the dust settled, and Chancellor Philip Hammond returned to the bench after delivering his Autumn Budget, the news for the self-employed was far better than first feared. In the build up to the Budget, all the talk surrounded an extension of IR35 changes from the public to private sector, and a significant lowering of the VAT threshold.
Both measures would have done a great deal of harm to our flexible, self-employed workforce. In the end, however, the speculation was exactly that: speculation.
After our grave and prolonged warnings, the government announced they will consider the impact of the IR35 off-payroll rules in the public sector before consulting on any changes in the private sector, while the VAT threshold will remain at its current rate for the next two years at least.
Both are clearly significant victories for the self-employed, but the hard work does not stop here. We will be contributing to what we hope will be a comprehensive and meaningful discussion that accurately reflects what we know: that the IR35 changes have brought nothing but chaos and confusion to the public sector, and would have the same impact in the private sector.
Forcing the government’s hand would not have been achieved without our members. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who provided case studies, evidence or wrote to their MPs. Together we ran a campaign that was heard across the UK’s political landscape. Much like the Class 4 NICs U-turn in March, we were at the forefront of the political debate and, in helping the Chancellor see sense, the self-employed voice was heard loud and clear.
Next year brings with it challenges and opportunities, both new and old. ISPE will continue to champion our support for the self-employed, so that policymakers build a platform that allows you to flourish.
Away from the corridors and chambers of Westminster, we were delighted to launch two very exciting new partnerships for our members. The first, with Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, provides members with access to exclusive rates on a range of brand new vehicles. And through a new relationship with AXA PPP Healthcare, our members can benefit from a series of health and wellbeing advantages.
We are always endeavouring to improve the value our members get from their membership packages, and we hope these latest announcements reflect that.
And lastly, on behalf of everyone at IPSE, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!