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IoD calls for new deal for self-employed and SMEs

The Institute of Directors (IoD) is calling on the Government to do more to address the changing nature of employment in the UK and level the playing field for freelancers and small businesses.

The Government has already commissioned an Employment Review, led by chair Matthew Taylor, to focus on modern employment practices.

The IoD says the review needs to be "broader" and it is now calling for a new Tax Commission "to keep the tax system up-to-date with changes to the economy including the growth of self-employment and the so-called platform economy".

It says the investigation should look into how the tax applied to the self-employed could be brought in line with employees. It should also investigate how online stores could be taxed fairly in relation to high street shops.

Stephen Martin, IoD Director General, said: 

"The Government must take action to relieve some of the pressure on the small businesses facing hikes in business rates … we should also look to the future, launching a new Tax Commission to look at what the growth of self-employment and online business mean for the tax system. The goal must be a much more level playing field."

Many shops and pubs will be faced with big increases in their business rates bills this year. The IoD said "It is an anomaly in the system that online businesses can operate large warehouses and pay less in rates than businesses with small premises in the middle of town … the IoD is calling for small businesses in properties worth up to £100,000 to be granted further reliefs from business rates."

Also this week, the self-employed and freelancer association IPSE welcomed comments made by the Employment Review chair Matthew Taylor highlighting the need to distinguish between vulnerable and career freelancers.

Simon McVicker, IPSE Director of Policy and External Affairs, said: 

"Some unscrupulous business are exploiting self-employed workers to deny them the employment protections they deserve. This review should explore how Government can clamp down on these companies, which are giving self-employment a bad name."
He added: "It's essential that Government refines its own definitions of self-employment, so everybody's thinking is aligned. Policymakers must then put the Taylor Review's recommendations into action. The Government-commissioned Deane Review on self-employment, which made a number of suggestions for better policy last year, has thus far been ignored. The Taylor Review has to be different."

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