BT cuts a real blow but show flexible labour at work
BT cuts a real blow but show flexible labour at work

The latest announcement from BT will mean an end to thousands of freelance contracts but while it will be a blow, freelancers’ organisation the Professional Contractors Group says it is a reflection of real flexible labour at work in a downturn.

There are 1.4 million freelancers in the UK and many of those have made the choice to become self-employed; when they opt to become freelancers they also take the commercial risk that goes along with it.  PCG believes that this is the true nature of flexible working, and is more important to the economy than the type of arrangement – in reality, merely flexible working patterns within traditional employment relationships – that the Government often refers to by the term.

PCG is adamant that the Government must acknowledge this fully, and reform the current tax rules that penalise flexible working in order to safeguard labour market flexibility: this means scrapping IR35.

John Brazier, managing director of PCG said: “BT’s announcement is not good news for any contractor who may be affected by the cuts.  However, when you choose to go freelance you opt for the benefits, such as being your own boss, making more money and having the freedom and variety, as well as the pitfalls which include less security and less certainty.  It doesn’t suit everyone.  However, the Government could be doing even more to help freelancers weather the economic storm.

“Over the last few weeks we have seen small businesses rise to the top of the political agenda – PCG would like to remind Alistair Darling again that it is IR35 and the proposed Family Business Tax, or “income shifting” legislation as he likes to call it, that are causing the nation’s freelancers more concern.”

In a recent poll of its members, PCG learned that 65% of its members see IR35 as a problem, and for 40% it is the top problem they face. The proposed Family Business Tax is the next biggest threat: 41% of PCG members see it as a problem, while for 21% it is the biggest problem they face.


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