Media Information 26 October 2018

Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Vince Cable, has taken to twitter to slam the Government’s Loan Charge 2019 after he joined workers for the mass Lobby Day against the retrospective tax held by freelance workers last Wednesday, 24th October 2018.

Mr Cable tweeted: “Met delegation on #STOPtheLoanCharge . Penal action by @HMRCgovuk against many freelance workers who were unintentionally involved in tax schemes. Met constituent facing 20 years retrospective claim for scheme declared legal at time.”

Sir Vince also made clear that this “penal action”  is against freelance workers “who were unintentionally involved in tax schemes” and that schemes “were legal at time”, challenging the false claims of illegality made by Treasury Minister Mel Stride in the House of Commons and in the media.

Hundreds of freelance workers descended on Parliament for the #STOPtheLoanCharge lobby day led by The Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG) to tell MPs about this unfair, ill-considered and disastrous legislation, calling for a reversal to this draconian policy that is destroying lives and damaging the economy.

Yesterday, Thursday 25th October, Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con) raised the #STOPtheLoanCharge call at Parliamentary business questions statingYesterday, the loan charge action group lobbied Parliament. It represents 100,000 families, including those of nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers and contractors. Retrospective taxation by this Government going back 20 years means that many of these families will lose their home and be forced into bankruptcy and, I am afraid, some will commit suicide. That cannot have been the intention of the Government. May we have a statement from the Financial Secretary next week so that we can ask him questions about something that I am sure the Government did not intend to happen?’

Leader of the House of Commons., Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con), replied: ‘I was aware yesterday of a lobby here in Parliament of those affected by the loan charge issue. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise it. I encourage him to seek an opportunity to raise it during the Budget debate next week where Treasury Ministers will be available, or indeed on 6 November in Treasury questions.’

Finance Minister, Mel Stride, is under growing pressure from Parliamentary colleagues to make a statement about the disastrous unintended consequences of the Loan Charge, including suicide, and to appear before the House of Commons, so that he can be questioned about it.

It has emerged that neither Treasury nor HMRC did a proper impact assessment, failing to predict the impact the Loan Charge will have on those affected, on contracting in the UK, and on large corporations reliant on skilled contractors and on the NHS.

Thousands of freelance workers face bankruptcy, anxiety and stress due to the Loan Charge, which breaks normal legal convention and allows HMRC to go back twenty years, demanding huge tax bills for arrangements that were legal and declared to them at the time.

The victims – who include social workers, teachers, doctors and nurses as well as IT contractors – simply followed professional advice and submitted their tax returns every year, with HMRC never challenging them at the time. Yet now they face life-destroying tax bills they cannot pay and cannot fairly appeal.

LCAG surveyed 500 of its members about the impact of the Loan Charge and a huge 68% of those facing the Loan Charge reported they are suffering from depression, and anxiety and a shocking 39% – well over a third of all affected – reporting suicidal thoughts and a risk of self-harm.

95 MPs from across the House of Commons have so far signed an Early Day Motion raised by Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne) calling for this “immoral”, retro tax grab to be scrapped.

Richard Horsley, Spokesperson for LCAG said:  “The Loan Charge Action Group are extremely grateful that Peter Bone raised The Loan Charge in the House of Commons and has called for Mel Stride to make a statement to the House of Commons about this disastrous policy which, as Mr Bone has made clear, will lead to people taking their own lives.

“The Loan Charge Action Group already dealing with desperate people and HMRC and the Treasury are well aware of the suicide risk from their flawed policy, yet are refusing to act.

“The fact that the Treasury never understood the impact this policy would have is shocking, but they cannot any longer ignore the fact that it will destroy and actually cost lives. No responsible Government can possibly push ahead regardless and it must now listen to its own MPs, like Peter Bone, who realise that the Loan Charge is dangerous. It is time for the Government to do the decent and obvious thing and make the Loan Charge apply only going forward, not retrospectively, which is fair, avoids the risks of bankruptcy, homelessness and suicide and gives certainty to everyone involved”.

Dr Iain Campbell, Secretary General of The Independent Health Professionals Association (IHPA) which represents the locum doctors and nurses caught up in the Loan Charge scandal, added:

“The Independent Health Professionals Association are very pleased that Peter Bone MP highlighted the fact that locum nurses and doctors are caught by the draconian Loan Charge. We know of nurses who will be made bankrupt if the Loan Charge goes through next year as planned. It’s not just 20 years of retrospective taxation, it’s a preventable mental health timebomb.

“The imposition of the flawed IR35 legislation on the public sector has been a fiasco and many locum doctors and nurses have ended up in arrangements which don’t benefit them or the NHS as a whole. The Government needs to listen and act”.

Campaigners are now hopeful that supportive MPs will apply for a debate on the Loan Charge and the chaos surrounding IR35 legislation, and ultimately an adjournment debate application to the Backbench Business Committee, tabling a question for the forthcoming Treasury Questions on Tuesday 6th November.  ENDS

Notes to Editors

Media Contact: Mark Sebright – marks@imagenuk.com / 07504 042613

  1. The full question and answer, from the Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom MP is here:

Peter Bone:

Yesterday, the loan charge action group lobbied Parliament. It represent 100,000 families, including those of nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers and contractors. Retrospective taxation by this Government going back 20 years means that many of these families will lose their home and be forced into bankruptcy and, I am afraid, some will commit suicide. That cannot have been the intention of the Government. May we have a statement from the Financial Secretary next week so that we can ask him questions about something that I am sure the Government did not intend to happen?

Andrea Leadsom:

I was aware yesterday of a lobby here in Parliament of those affected by the loan charge issue. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise it. I encourage him to seek an opportunity to raise it during the Budget debate next week where Treasury Ministers will be available, or indeed on 6 November in Treasury questions.

  1. The question can be viewed here https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/305dd74d-36fd-4991-9a91-de1e38228b47 (it is at 11:43:08, you can navigate to the reference to Peter Bone on the right or scroll through the footage).

 

  1. About the Loan Charge Action Group: The Loan Charge Action Group seeks to raise awareness and reform of the retrospective IR35 tax charge introduced by HM Treasury in the 2017 Budget and build a community where affected individuals can find information and support. The Group does not provide any form of chargeable service or professional advice. Visit hmrcloancharge.info

 

  1. LCAG members’s survey: In summer 2018, LCAG surveyed 500 of its members about the impact of the Loan Charge and the following were the responses as to how if was affecting people:

Depression / Anxiety / Mental health impact:                  68%

Bankruptcy:                                                                     71%

Loss of residence / home:                                               49%

Divorce / Relationship breakdown:                                  31%

Loss of career:                                                                 30%

Suicidal thoughts / self-harm:                                           39%

 

  1. The Independent Health Professionals Association is a Trade Association representing thousands of independent health care professionals, including locum doctors and nurses working in the NHS. See https://ihpa.org.uk/ .

 

  1. House of Commons Early Day Motion 1239: That this House expresses its concern at the 2019 Loan Charge; notes that it is retrospective applying back to 1999; further notes that as a result of the introduction of IR35, umbrella companies were set up and recommended by professional advisers and employment agencies; recognises that the Charge will affect contractors, freelancers and agency workers, including social workers, supply teachers and bank and locum nurses and doctors; notes that employment was not an option and in some cases the company or organisation insisted on those arrangements, including to avoid paying National Insurance; notes that these individuals did not receive sick or holiday pay; believes it is unfair that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are pursuing people who acted in good faith rather than the client organisations, agencies or umbrella companies all of whom benefited significantly; notes that HMRC are aggressively pursuing individuals through Advanced Payment Notices with no independent right of appeal; further believes that the Charge is likely to cause financial distress and bankruptcies, impeding HMRC’s ability to recover these tax liabilities and causing a devastating impact on people; believes that retrospectively taxing something that was technically allowed at the time, is unfair; calls on the Government to revise the legislation to avoid significant damage to independent contractors and freelancers in the UK; and calls for the Charge to apply only to disguised remuneration loans entered into after the Finance Act 2017 received Royal Assent.

For full register of MPs supporting Parliamentary motion see https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1239

  1. Suicide risk – HMRC and HMT are aware of the suicide risk being created by the Loan Charge (as reported in the Evening Standard https://www.standard.co.uk/business/suicide-watch-the-preventable-tax-timebomb-looming-for-freelancers-a3861916.html, yet so far have refused to set up a 24 hour helpline for people needing urgent counselling, see https://www.hmrcloancharge.info/news/hmrc_please_be_suicidal_during_office_hours/ .
  2. The Loan Charge has been raised in the House of Commons (Treasury questions on 3rd July 2018) as follows:
  • Stephen Lloyd MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastbourne): “Recent media reports have identified the severe impact of this huge retrospective charge on the mental health of some of the contractors, Mr Speaker, I’ve real concerns about their wellbeing. Will the Minister commit to setting up a 24-hour helpline to provide support for individuals caught in this trap?”
  • Peter Aldous MP (Conservative, Waveney): “The retrospective nature of the 2019 Loan Charge could bankrupt thousands of people. Will the Government revise legislation to ensure this does not happen with the Loan Charge only applying to disguised remuneration loans made after the 2017 Finance Act?”.