BBC to give up its "tax-avoiding" freelancers

They'll become staff.

More than 100 BBC presenters will have to give up freelance contracts that could help them cut their tax bills, according to reports from the Telegraph.

The broadcaster has allowed more than 6,000 employees to be paid as though they were “personal service companies”, meaning they can be taxed more lightly, the newspaper reports. These freelancers include Fiona Bruce, Gavin Esler and Emily Maitlis.

After a review of its freelance arrangements by Deloitte, the BBC said today that it could move 131 people onto staff contracts after their freelance deals have expired.

Hovever, it added that there was "no evidence" that it had helped aid tax avoidance.

Earlier this year Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman said that the BBC had asked him to set up a private company in order to receive payment.

 

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce, who was named by the Telegraph. Photograph: Getty Images
Photo: Getty
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When Donald Trump talks, remember that Donald Trump almost always lies

Anyone getting excited about a trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom should pay more attention to what Trump does, not what he says. 

Celebrations all round at the Times, which has bagged the first British newspaper interview with President-Elect Donald Trump.

Here are the headlines: he’s said that the EU has become a “vehicle for Germany”, that Nato is “obsolete” as it hasn’t focused on the big issue of the time (tackling Islamic terrorism), and that he expects that other countries will join the United Kingdom in leaving the European Union.

But what will trigger celebrations outside of the News Building is that Trump has this to say about a US-UK trade deal: his administration will ““work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly”. Time for champagne at Downing Street?

When reading or listening to an interview with Donald Trump, don’t forget that this is the man who has lied about, among other things, who really paid for gifts to charity on Celebrity Apprentice, being named Michigan’s Man of the Year in 2011, and making Mexico pay for a border wall between it and the United States. So take everything he promises with an ocean’s worth of salt, and instead look at what he does.   

Remember that in the same interview, the President-Elect threatened to hit BMW with sanctions over its decision to put a factory in Mexico, not the United States. More importantly, look at the people he is appointing to fill key trade posts: they are not free traders or anything like it. Anyone waiting for a Trump-backed trade deal that is “good for the UK” will wait a long time.

And as chess champion turned Putin-critic-in-chief Garry Kasparov notes on Twitter, it’s worth noting that Trump’s remarks on foreign affairs are near-identical to Putin’s. The idea that Nato’s traditional purpose is obsolete and that the focus should be on Islamic terrorism, meanwhile, will come as a shock to the Baltic states, and indeed, to the 650 British soldiers who have been sent to Estonia and Poland as part of a Nato deployment to deter Russian aggression against those countries.

All in all, I wouldn’t start declaring the new President is good news for the UK just yet.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.