IR35 on the agenda as March Budget announced

Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has used a visit to Manchester’s Trafford Park tram line scheme to announce that the next Budget will be held on Wednesday 11 March 2020.

Mr. Javid commented: “People across the country have told us that they want change. We’ve listened and will now deliver. With this Budget we will unleash Britain’s potential – uniting our great country, opening a new chapter for our economy and ushering in a decade of renewal.”

Andraste Accounting managing director, Carolyn Walsh, suggested potential remains for IR35’s expansion into the private sector to be postponed in the Budget, saying: “Just look at the reverse VAT charge in the construction industry which was shelved last year”. However, the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association is taking a more cautious stance: “The sensible approach is to prepare for [the IR35] change as HMRC’s and the Treasury’s track record is to bring in significant tax changes despite any ‘review'”.

Brookson Legal stressed that the timing of the Budget places pressure on the contracting industry to act quickly when it comes to the off-payroll working rules: “If the IR35 changes in the private sector do come into effect in April 2020, as planned, confirmation of the legislation in a March Budget does not leave long for businesses, recruiters and contractors to prepare.”

The Budget is also set to build on the Government’s December announcement that the National Living Wage will rise to £8.72 per hour from April, meaning low-paid workers will get a pay rise of 6.2%, the largest ever cash increase.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month: “For too long, people haven’t seen the pay rises they deserve.”

However, the rise, which is more than four times the rate of inflation, prompted businesses to warn that the move could put pressure on firms. Co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, Hannah Essex, commented: “Raising wage floors so far above the rate of inflation will pile further pressure on cash flow and eat into training and investment budgets … For this policy to be sustainable, government must offset these costs by reducing others.”

The Budget will also look at the environment and boosting public spending, including investment in new hospitals and training thousands of new police officers.

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