UCATT backs demand for clampdown on bogus self-employment claims when rules come into force in 2005.
Labour MP Alan Hirst this week called on the government to rigorously enforce the online construction industry tax scheme when it comes into force in 2005.

Hirst, who introduced an adjournment debate on the scheme on Tuesday night, said it was essential that the Inland Revenue made use of the tougher regulations to clamp down on bogus self-employment.

Hirst said: "Construction industry tax schemes that have been introduced in the past have not always been enforced properly, resulting in the loss of millions of pounds to the taxpayer."

He continued: "The government's new online verification service for the construction industry tax scheme will serve as a way of monitoring workers, but there also needs to be a cross-checking system to make sure it is properly enforced."

Hirst, MP for Braintree in Essex, said that he would explain the concerns of construction trade union UCATT in the adjournment debate, a device to enable backbench MPs to raise issues of concern.

UCATT has argued that the Inland Revenue should impose severe penalties for making false declarations over employment status as it believed this would be an effective deterrent for those thinking of making bogus claims. The union also wanted the government to provide clear guidance over employment status so contractors and employees know where they stand.

Tax schemes in the past have not been properly enforced

Alan Hirst, MP for Braintree

UCATT general secretary George Brumwell said that thousands of building workers were incorrectly classified as self-employed and it cost the exchequer billions of pounds each year.

He said: "Middle income earners paying 40% tax would be justified in asking the government what they are doing to stop this." Abuses such as false self-employment had to be tackled to put the industry on a proper footing, said Brumwell.

Under the proposals to beef up the CIS system, tax cards are to be replaced by a computerised government verification service. This will monitor the tax records of contractors and workers and quickly identify anomalies.