Autumn Statement – a first step against bogus self-employment
The Autumn Statement promised to act against companies that “use employment intermediaries to disguise employment as self-employment and thus avoid employment taxes and deny employment rights to their workforce.” This is, of course, a polite way of describing bogus self-employment, so the announcement is welcome.
However, what is intended is quite a modest step, as it is “estimated to save £400M”. On the plus side it will happen quickly – from April 2014 as part of finance bill. The Government has recently concluded a consultation on the use of this practice in the North Sea oil and gas industry, so it seems most likely that this will be where the main focus of the initiative will lie.
Taking a first step on cracking down on bogus self-employment deserves a toast – in 80 shilling ale, at least.
If the government were to go further and crack down on all bogus self-employment then we should all gleefully upgrade that toast to champagne.
Unfortunately the use of bogus self-employment is still much to common in some sectors like construction and transport, where trade unions continue to fight a long-running campaign against this unfair practice.
The next step should be for the government to clamp down on the abuse of travel and subsistence schemes by employment agencies, as far too many seek to avoid paying the National Minimum Wage, income tax and NICs, and this is a serious problem.