Tax reforms have already made 12,000 doctors leave the UK, says Secretary General of the Independent Health Professionals’ Association
The Secretary General of an association that represents thousands of health care professionals has demanded equal rights for equal tax, in response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement of emergency measures to help the self-employed during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Unveiling a new income support scheme that will pay self employed workers a grant of up to £2,500 a month, worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, the Chancellor hinted the trade-off for this will be the self-employed and the employed paying the same tax and National Insurance rates in the future.
"If we all want to benefit equally from state support, we must all pay in equally in the future," said Mr Sunak.
However, Dr Iain Campbell, Secretary General of the Independent Health Professionals’ Association (IHPA), says that existing tax reforms for the self-employed have already likely caused a 12,000 reduction in the number of doctors in this country.
Her Majesty’s Treasury, speaking on behalf of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has previously said it has seen no evidence of NHS staff shortages as a result of the IR35 tax changes, that see self-employed contractors classed as ‘disguised employees’.
This means self-employed doctors and nurses can no longer claim back legitimate costs such as temporary accommodation and transport as business expenses, but instead must foot them personally.
Unlike employed workers, self employed do not receive holiday pay or sick pay.
Now, as he announced new measures to support the self-employed through the pandemic, Mr Sunak said he would look to address what he called an inconsistency in self-employed contributions in the future when working to “right the ship” after the crisis.
He said: “Rather than be too specific right now about future tax policy, it’s just an observation that there’s currently an inconsistency in contributions between self-employed and employed.
“And the actions taken today, which is very significant, tens of billions of pounds of support for those who are self-employed treating them the same way as those who are employed, it does throw into light the question of consistency and whether that is fair to everybody going forward.
“Especially as when we get through this and are chipping in together to right the ship afterwards making sure everyone is doing their bit as well.
“And I think that is a very fair and reasonable observation to make at this time.”
However, in response, Dr Campbell demanded 'equal rights for equal tax' for self-employed workers, who do not receive holiday pay or sick pay, and are often disadvantaged in other ways.
He told us: "The mantra should not be same role, same tax - it should be same tax, same rights."
Dr Campbell has previously called for the suspension of IR35 tax legislation, that has seen self-employed contractors classed as ‘disguised employees’, which means they can no longer claim back legitimate costs such as temporary accommodation and transport as business expenses but instead must foot them personally.
He says this has likely caused a 12,000 reduction in the number of doctors in this country, and that he believes the stress and anxiety it can trigger is harming the mental health of some medics – including a surgeon who he said has twice tried to take his own life.
Other critics say the legislation has forced many thousands of workers to leave other areas of the contracting sector.
Earlier this month, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay announced that the planned roll-out of the latest IR35 reforms, that will see responsibility for IR35 assessment transferred from contractors to large and medium companies, would be pushed back by one year - less than a week after the April roll-out was confirmed in the Budget.
However, Dr Campbell says the roll out has only been suspended in the private sector, so health care professionals working in the public sector - such as the NHS are still - will continue to struggle due the Off Payroll rues.
"The NHS is still at big risk and there will be preventable loss of life if the reforms are not suspended," claimed Dr Campbell.
Last year, Dr Iain Campbell told us that IR35 legislation that is already in place, and a controversial tax policy called the Loan Charge that targets people who used tax management schemes, that has been linked with multiple suicides, were creating a staffing and mental health crisis in the NHS
A spokesman for HM Treasury, speaking on behalf of the HMRC said that “no-one has to use a disguised remuneration or other avoidance scheme”.
However, in written evidence given to the House of Lords and published on the Parliament website, Dr Campbell said IR35 legislation, designed to clamp down on what the HMRC calls ‘disguised employees’, had wrongly taken away self-employed status from tens of thousands of doctors and nurses, many of whom provide temporary and emergency cover for the NHS.
This means they can no longer claim back legitimate costs such as temporary accommodation and transport as business expenses but instead must foot them personally.
Accusing HMRC of “deliberate misrepresentation”, he told the House of Lords: “We [IHPA] hold evidence obtained by FOI [Freedom of Information request] which shows the claims HMRC made to your lordships with respect to not foreseeing any great impact on the NHS are demonstrably incorrect.”
Original source Plymouth Live