Millionaire tells Tone to stuff IR35

The chairman of a large software house has told the Prime Minister how IR35 would have ruined his chances of business success had...

The chairman of a large software house has told the Prime Minister how IR35 would have ruined his chances of business success had it been in place 10 years ago when he was a freelance IT contractor.

In an open letter to Tony Blair, millionaire businessman Ronald Duncan - head of the Berkshire-based @Software plc and a former Olympic skier - expressed concern that the legislation was stifling competition and driving UK talent abroad. He said he believed the rules were also threatening to reduce flexibility in the market place and would discourage innovative people from setting up small businesses, with damaging results for the "new" economy.

"As a large established software business, @Software will be protected from freelance IT competition by IR35," wrote Duncan. "Despite this, I have no desire to pull up the ladder behind me and create a less competitive environment within which to trade."

Calling for further public debate on the issue, Duncan referred to next week's judicial review of the legislation and concluded: "I strongly urge you to intervene before it is too late, in order that other companies can grow from the 150,000 small independent consultancies to help drive the new economy forward."

Gareth Williams, chairman of the PCG, applauded Duncan for "explaining so clearly" the impact of IR35 on the business community, even though it was a message the Prime Minister had heard "loud and clear" before.

"This letter is particularly relevant because even though larger businesses may benefit from a reduction in their competition due to IR35, here we have one businessman who can see beyond that to the damage IR35 will do to the legislation," commented Williams.

The PCG will challenge the validity of IR35 at the High Court between March 13 - 15. Further information is available at

This was last published in March 2001

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