A North MP will stand up for workers rights over ‘umbrella’ companies that leave them out of pocket.
Construction employees paid by so-called umbrella companies claim they have been told to make up lost wages by claiming expenses, even fraudulently.
It is claimed that companies are getting around new government regulations forbidding them to treat workers as self-employed.
They set up umbrella companies so that the workers are not directly employed by the construction firms.
Unions UNITE and UCATT will join MPs in lobbying at the Houses of Parliament this Wednesday.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, who will speak alongside union heads and other MPs, said:
“This is the latest in a long line of scams designed to help employers avoid their obligations to their employees and to taxpayers.
“The umbrella company loophole is costing construction workers in my constituency hundreds of pounds a month.
“These are the people who build our homes, schools and hospitals.
“They deserve better than to be conned out of a fair wage.
“The Government was warned about this problem a while ago, and I and other Labour MPs have been raising it in Parliament for months now, but we have been fobbed off by Ministers who don’t understand the scale of the problem.”
One electrician working at a building site in Northumberland was moved onto an umbrella scheme this year.
The worker said that since the change his wages were, on estimate, £2,500 to £3,500 down in six months.
“What they’re saying is that you’ve got to make it up on expenses,” he said.
“I talked to someone from the umbrella scheme on the phone to say that I couldn’t claim for driving and he said ‘surely one of your family uses a car. Use those petrol receipts’.
He said wages should not be reliant on expenses to recoup money lost through tax.
“Why should a trained electrician have to put up with a minimum wage?
“It’s been a struggle.”
In a recent report UCATT General Secretary Steve Murphy said:
“It was hoped that, as a result of the Government’s actions, construction workers would be paid properly and enjoy basic employment rights.
“The hope was dashed as, in order to get work, workers were forced to sign up to umbrella companies.”
But he said his members saw no increase in their wages.
“In fact they have to pay both employee’s and employer’s NI contributions, as much as a quarter of their eligible earnings,” he said.
Another worker, Andy, was in an umbrella scheme at a Teesside site.
He said he asked how to recover his wage and was told to fraudulently claim.
“They told me ‘you can claim six pounds a day for your parking,’ he said.
“The only thing was that the car park was private property – it was the site I worked at – and it wouldn’t cost me a penny.”
Umbrella companies act as an employer and accountant to clients, receiving invoices from them, paying the worker’s salary while deducting tax and a fee for their own work.
The method’s use has increased after government legislation was introduced to reduce the number of workers declared as self-employed.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 22 Nov 2014
On the same day that the government announced it was scrapping the £180-million-a-year Social Fund for the destitute, a new survey showed that the big US internet companies operating in Britain have increased their UK sales last year by 18 per cent but paid even less tax to the Treasury than the year before.
Apple UK made £1 billion this country in 2011, but paid only £15.7m in tax. Last year its UK turnover rose £1.2bn, but its tax payments vanished to almost nothing – £1.7m, or precisely 0.1 per cent of turnover.
Facebook made £20m in the UK in 2011 and paid an almost invisible £200,000 in tax.
Last year its turnover nearly doubled to £35m, but its tax payments to Britain shrivelled to nothing at all.
Taking all the seven companies together – Apple UK, Google, Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo UK, Facebook UK and Amazon UK – their turnover in the UK last year was just under £3bn, but their tax payments totalled just £51m, or 1.7 per cent of turnover.
At the other end of the scale the Social Fund is being wound up by the Tories – something even Thatcher refused to do.
The Social Fund is the last helpline for the poorest families in extreme distress, often brought on by an unexpected financial crisis.
This last-resort lifebelt has been in place for the hardest-hit ever since 1948 and its removal will devastate families, often including children, leaving them literally destitute.
The Tories will no doubt argue that it’s part of the drive to make savings to reduce the budget deficit.
That claim won’t pass muster for two reasons. First, the deficit last year was £111bn, so cutting £180m will save 0.16 per cent – an enormously painful and destructive cut for an utterly minuscule saving.
Second, tackling the corporate tax cheats would be far fairer and produce vastly more money.
So why doesn’t the government get serious about industrial-scale tax avoidance?
Partly because HMRC has been significantly scaled back – and it started under Blair and Brown – as a result of industrial lobbying.
And partly because the Tories get half their annual income each year from the finance sector, so Cameron, Osborne and co aren’t going to touch the biggest tax crooks of all with a bargepole.
Of course the companies will come up with their usual plaintive mantra that they’re complying with the tax laws.
What they mean is they devise the most artificial contrivances they can think of to circumvent the weak and inadequate tax regulations that exist, knowing perfectly well that their practices are aggressively anti-social and contravene the national interest, but as long as they don’t actually fall foul of the letter of the law they have no interest in Britain whatever and will go on feathering their own nests – as well as, of course, the Tories’.
Source – BS News, 09 Jan 2014
The truth is that it doesn’t really matter anymore. The end result of his policies will be the same whichever is the case. A result as tragic as it was predictable, as poverty not seen in generations returns to the UK.
The recent case of Tim Salter, who committed suicide after benefits were stopped due to the brutal Atos assessment regime, is far from the first death directly linked to welfare reforms. At the end of last month two suicides linked to Atos assessments were reported in just one week. Also reported just before Christmas was the death of Denis Jones, a disabled former soldier who died alone five weeks after his benefits were stopped. Whilst his death was recorded as natural causes…
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