Treasury Minister: We all believe in clear and simple tax regulations

Posted On: 
4th October 2019

Speaking at an event hosted by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, Treasury Minister Jesse Norman MP said the political process makes tax reforms difficult.

Jesse Norman MP was joined on the panel by fellow Minister Mims Davies MP.
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Speaking at a Conservative Party conference fringe event hosted by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), Treasury Minister Jesse Norman has said “we all believe in clear and simple tax regulations.”

When pressed to comment on IR35 legislation and HMRC’s widely criticised Loan Charge, he added “the political process” made tax reforms difficult.

However, he emphasised that it was correct to recognise special vulnerabilities and concerns that people may have before changing tax policy.

Norman spoke in favour of IR35 at the event. He summarised the rule: “if you work like an employee, you should pay tax like an employee.

“This is a proposition that I think 90 per cent of the British people would assent to, if you put it in those terms.”

Simon McVicker, Director of Policy at IPSE, also sat on the panel. He called for “an honest review of taxes which have caused misery and confusion over the last ten years.”

IPSE has consistently raised concerns about HMRC’s “retrospective tactics” on the Loan Charge. The Charge is an attempt to recover tax from disguised remuneration schemes. The Government recently launched an independent review of the Charge, led by Sir Amyas Morse.

On the Loan Charge, Norman would not comment in detail.

“There is a review going on at the moment… it is entirely independent.”

McVicker also stated that infrastructure investment was needed. He called for the Government to “support broadband and the roll out of 5G.”

In response, Norman strongly implied further announcements would appear.

“Watch this space… There is a lot more to come,” he stated.

Jesse Norman was joined on the panel by fellow Minister Mims Davies MP.

Employment Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, Davies was keen to emphasise her commitment to the “compassionate Conservative agenda” the Prime Minister had asked her to pursue.

“He asked me to focus on a compassionate Conservative agenda, around equality, around opportunity and around skills for our young people.”

Davies painted a bold vision for the re-branding of job centres, arguing society should see these as “community hubs” where people could “train up and re-skill.”

The Minister also shared her thoughts on the Government’s beleaguered Universal Credit scheme, acknowledging criticisms.

“I want to make sure that Universal Credit works for people who are self-employed much better,” she said.

“If you are just about managing, if you have a talent or an ability, and you can set up on your own, you can use that time and not be punished for doing more.”

“We need to make sure our Department of Work and Pensions absolutely supports people at their time of need but empowers them to go on to the next stage when they are ready.”

On her political rivals, Davies was frank, stating the Labour Party had “a very, very frightening agenda” when it came to “what they will do to business and what they will do to enterprise.”

On a more optimistic note, Dame Helena Morrisey, Head of Personal Investing at Legal and General, said that the future of work was “exciting”. She spoke of the opportunities offered by flexible working and the need for corporate culture to be more accepting of the need for flexibility.

Concluding the event, Davies had a wider message for fellow Government Ministers on how they make public policy.

“We learn a lot of our policy from court cases and charities and people having a go at us,” she stated.

“We don’t listen to APPGs, we don’t look at reports. We are not as engaging as we should be.

“I want to change that.”