Inland Revenue certificates for builders earning up to £30 000 set to legitimise bogus self-employment, claims union.
Transport and General Workers Union construction officer Bob Blackman is to meet paymaster-general Dawn Primarolo to protest at the introduction of a tax registration card.

The CIS4 card will allow construction workers earning less than £30 000 a year to retain self-employed status. Holders of the card, which will include their photograph and national insurance number, will have tax deducted at source as with the SC60 certificate it replaces.

Blackman said he has evidence that several firms planned to use the CIS4 card to switch directly employed operatives to self-employed status when it comes into use in August. He said: "The CIS4 will be used to legitimise bogus self-employment in the industry, effectively legalising a practice which the Inland Revenue has spent the last two years telling us is illegal." The Revenue has issued more than 700 000 application forms for the CIS4 card.

Blackman expects to meet with Primarolo within two weeks to explain why he thinks the system is flawed. His concerns were echoed by Mansfield-based plastering contractor Bill Taylor, president of the Federation of Plastering and Drywall Contractors.

It’s a joke, and shows the Revenue isn’t able to clamp down on bogus self-employment

Frank taggart, GMB union

Taylor said: "I don't like the advent of CIS4 cards; they still leave a loophole for unscrupulous contractors to exploit to the detriment of bona fide contractors. Why is the Revenue leaving an open door that gives cowboys an advantage over reputable firms?" Frank Taggart, construction official with general union GMB, said operatives will be able to apply for a temporary version of the CIS4 without having to provide details of their national insurance number. "They'll be handing them out to any Tom, Dick or Harry. It's a joke, and shows that the Revenue isn't able to clamp down on bogus self-employment in building," he said.

However, Liz Bridge, tax specialist at the Construction Confederation, rejected claims that the introduction of the card was a retreat by the Revenue. "The new system is good and the Revenue can now police the industry more efficiently. Only the Revenue can hand out CIS cards, so it's a much tighter system than SC60. The temporary card will have an expiry date," she said.