A number of issues mentioned in the Queen’s speech at the recent State Opening of Parliament have the potential to affect the contracting industry, Contractor UK reports.
The areas that could make an impact on contractors include small business (with the Enterprise Bill); the workplace (with an EU referendum, illegal workers controls and HS2); ICT (Bill of Rights, cyber protection, reforms to data laws) and personal finance.
The latter area also incorporates the issue of tax, which is likely to positively affect all contractors with the Queen’s references to pensions, personal allowance, income tax and free childcare all sounding promising.
Some industry experts are warning that contractors should wait until the finer details have been announced before getting too excited about the new rules. However, the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) notes that freezing NI, VAT and PAYE should “serve to help smaller businesses…thrive.”
Meanwhile, Simon Walker – director-general of the Institute of Directors (IoD) – commended the offering of a tax freeze. But it is also “imperative that the government’s commitments do not prevent bold tax reforms to both simplify taxation and reduce the burden upon businesses and individuals,” he added.
Walker also welcomed the Enterprise Bill, which the Queen referred to as one measure to “reduce regulation on small businesses.” However, he was similarly hesitant to celebrate this decision, noting that “good intentions are nothing without delivery.”
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was also concerned about the lack of information being offered so far, calling for “more details on how the Small Business Conciliation Service will work in practice”; while the Federation of Small Businesses also wanted to know about the mechanics of the offering.
It’s likely that all three groups will be pleased with the speech’s go-ahead for legislating high-speed railway connections between different parts of the UK, and updates to communications data laws that could impact IT contractors.
Commenting on the issue of illegal workers, the CBI expressed its view that there is “an enormous difference between exploitation, which is a serious crime, and typical employment law disputes, which have well established routes to resolution.” That distinction must be upheld, it stressed.
The Queen vowed that the government would bring forward proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, in order to give police more access to communications data; however she did not commit to the bill herself.