Citizens of nowhere. ‘Keeping pace with the changing world of work’. Two phrases you might just about remember from 2016, when they were strands of the abortive ‘May-ist’ ideology. They must now seem aeons away to the embattled Prime Minister.
If her plan to ‘build a new united Britain’ is draining away faster than you can say Boris Johnson, so too is her commitment to reforming modern work – particularly self-employment.
This month was the one-year anniversary of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. First commissioned back in those heady days when it looked like the May Government would have at least some policies beyond Brexit, its conclusion turned into May’s attempt to relaunch her premiership after the 2017 election debacle.
There was much talk of promoting ‘good work’ and ensuring the interests of the self-employed were ‘properly protected’. But one year on, how much has changed: what has the Government done to promote ‘good work’ and protect the self-employed?
Well, in short: not much. In fact, far from protecting self-employment, it seems determined to take steps in the opposite direction. Without even delving into the recent resignation of the Small Business Minister – or the slow response to the better recommendations in the Taylor Review – the Government now seems set on actively squeezing the self-employed.
So far it has not only reduced the Dividend Allowance from £5,000 to £2,000 – seriously hitting many self-employed people – but also proposed reducing the VAT threshold. If the threshold was lowered from £85,000, it would actively discourage many self-employed people from growing their businesses.
Then there is the biggest matter. For self-employed people, nothing sends a shiver down the spine more than the term ‘IR35’.