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Comments

Jack Bains

I am a teacher - I have a whole room full of school stuff and I work many hours per week at home (not moaning - love the job) would I get tax relief?

The H&S issue is an interetsing one. I was going to apply for a job with OFSTED that involved homeworking. The job details contained information about how I would have to set up my desk, what sort of chair I would have to buy, the height of my desk and the level of lighting in the room. All of the new equaipment would have been covered by a grant.

voreas06

a-tracy

"Working from home can isolate people; some people need to work with others, not everyone is suited to lone working."

Sure but as David says it is not compulsory and if your company makes it so you can always change. Also in many organisations these days people can be just as isolated even if surrounded by 100 people and they don't even have the comforts of home.

"After setting up a home office it could be difficult to organize sick or holiday cover for a key worker as not just them but all the company equipment would be unavailable for the period,"

I would say the opposite if you have a person go sick then another person on leave who may cover is more likely to do so if it just means working from home rather than traipsing 60+ miles to the office, obviously equipment may be an issue but I am really thinking about PC and phone users where the equipment is pretty generic

"they also wouldn’t be sharing their skills and training others which happens naturally in an office environment."

True there would be no face to face on the job training but there could be online training given by a real human being and there would be no need for the humiliation that some users feel when being trained in front of their peers, also the reduced fixed costs may allow organisations to properly invest in training tailored to the individual rather than rely on the easy on the job training.

"The sales people I know are employed but work from their home base as their Manager doesn't need to micro-manage them as their results are clear to see.Working from home can isolate people; some people need to work with others"

He/She sounds like a good manager in a good organisation but I feel these are not really home-workers rather they are travelling salesman therefore they would not qualify.

Regarding Health and Safety for lone workers I’ll give you an example of where its the same today; If you are presently working from home alone I hope that your Employer has concluded to following:

"A Risk Assessment
A Fire Assessment
Portable Electrical Safety checks every year including all equipment that has a lead (cable) including your kettle, heater, lights, computer.
Electrical Safety Check every three years.
Display Screen Equipment regulation checks (e.g has your chair got a five-star base with casters and a seat height adjuster).
Has your workstation been checked – does it comply with legislation,
Have you got a first aid kit,
Have you got a fire extinguisher and is it fixed securely to ensure they are available at all times, and have you been trained how to use it."

This as David say's is an example of blame culture/nanny statism and barring perhaps providing the correct PC/Chair I would suggest that the rest is waived when home working is undertaken.

Jack Bains

p.s. Recently there have been a number of thefts of company equipment from private dwellings. Homeworking could leave people open to crime. Equally, some of the thefts (mainly laptops) led to security problems as personal, and in some cases classified, data was stolen.

voreas06

Jack Bains

"I am a teacher - I have a whole room full of school stuff and I work many hours per week at home (not moaning - love the job) would I get tax relief?"

but five days a week you drive to school, if in future you did a virtual classroom from your house five days a week, then I would say so, but currently no.

voreas06

Jack Bains
"p.s. Recently there have been a number of thefts of company equipment from private dwellings. Homeworking could leave people open to crime. Equally, some of the thefts (mainly laptops) led to security problems as personal, and in some cases classified, data was stolen."

Store your data securely online perhaps at a secure server in the school. The equipment itself in my opinion is just as vulnerable or even more so around schools, your argument of more likelihood for crime may have been true 10 years ago when equipment was rare and expensive but now it is fairly ubiquitous and an awful lot of people have PCs and laptops at home anyway.

Jack Bains

voreas06 - not worried about my own equipment, but there have been recent cases of private sector thefts where secure data was lost. We do have a secure server, but it is blooming expensive to run and maintain. A recent "crash" of the system will cost £60,000 to £100,000 to fix!

Jake

Sorry David, this is an utterly ludicrous idea.

You say "I don't see many political risks" - nonsense. Labour and Lib Dems will say "the Tories want bricklayers to subsidise architects". This is a tax break that is largely available to comfortably off professionals, and totally unavailable to virtually any manual worker, health worker etc. It will be torn to shreds by our opponents.

And the cost is astronomical. You note that it will cost £1.5 billion based on the current number of homeworkers. Just think about what you are saying - you need to find £1.5 billion to do this even before it actually achieves anything! You are giving away £1.5 billion to people who are already doing what you want them to do! And as I say, that money is totally unavailable to a large proportion of people, who are disproportionately relatively poorly paid (principally those in manual work). If you have £1.5 billion, just give it away as a general taxcut and not via ridiculous, bureaucratic and frankly NuLabour schemes.

voreas06

Jake
"You say "I don't see many political risks" - nonsense. Labour and Lib Dems will say "the Tories want bricklayers to subsidise architects". This is a tax break that is largely available to comfortably off professionals, and totally unavailable to virtually any manual worker, health worker etc. It will be torn to shreds by our opponents."

While it may be that Architects who commute will get the benefit I think it will equally benefit lower paid office workers like secretary's and call centre employees. True manual workers will not see a benefit financially but they will have less congested Roads and Rail which may earn them wasted time commuting. The counter argument for this will be that clearly Labour and the Lib Dems have no interest in reducing transport carbon emmissions over than through punitive taxes whereas the Conservatives do joined up Government and want to reward good behaviour, not penalise bad.

"And the cost is astronomical. You note that it will cost £1.5 billion based on the current number of homeworkers. Just think about what you are saying - you need to find £1.5 billion to do this even before it actually achieves anything! You are giving away £1.5 billion to people who are already doing what you want them to do! And as I say, that money is totally unavailable to a large proportion of people, who are disproportionately relatively poorly paid (principally those in manual work). If you have £1.5 billion, just give it away as a general taxcut and not via ridiculous, bureaucratic and frankly NuLabour schemes."

Nonsense, part of the point of this is that it would reduce commuting and raise productivity and therefore profit and hence tax, how exactly would a general tax cut do that. Of the 3 Million already working at home I would imagine most would not get the benefit.


a-tracy

David "the reduced fixed costs may allow organisations to properly invest in training tailored to the individual rather than rely on the easy on the job training"

The organisation surely pays towards the costs of running 'your' home office, pay the same amount for the phone bill, the equipment bill, your insurance bill and a contribution to any extra home security you have to purchase to protect their equipment, a contribution to your heating and electricity costs, the health and safety bills - because whatever you think David this is the law and your employer would still have liability for your H&S at work.

You say this homeworking wouldn't be compulsory but you believe it would become massive, then in the same way that Sunday working in retail wasn't compulsory over time you have no choice if you want a job in that sector of enterprise/business.

Just remember one thing, that you could be opening Pandoras box, because the argument would be that if your service tasks can be all covered from anywhere and you need no office in the UK, business could offshore jobs more easily to low cost, low regulation Countries we don't have the protection of a unique language. You may be able to stop existing businesses offshoring easily but new business wouldn't be under any restrictions and we British don't protect our own industries, we weren't prepared to buy mugs for £15-£20 each to protect our pottery industry when we could import them for £2.

voreas06

a-tracy, I shall endeavour to answer on David's behalf as you have actually quoted me.

"The organisation surely pays towards the costs of running 'your' home office, pay the same amount for the phone bill, the equipment bill, your insurance bill and a contribution to any extra home security you have to purchase to protect their equipment, a contribution to your heating and electricity costs, the health and safety bills - because whatever you think David this is the law and your employer would still have liability for your H&S at work."

Firstly that may be the case but it is still going to be small beer in comparison with having to rent, light, heat, secure, clean, and insure a dedicated office. Also while it may currently be the law for home-working it will definately need to be reviewed as frankly creating all those barriers means British service industries are liable to be routinely undercut by foreign competition that does not force wrapping in cotton wool if the very idea of home-working is considered.

"You say this homeworking wouldn't be compulsory but you believe it would become massive, then in the same way that Sunday working in retail wasn't compulsory over time you have no choice if you want a job in that sector of enterprise/business."

I agree it probably will become virtually compulsory, people will adapt, just as they have to Sunday Working, although in this case there is actually an improvement in working conditions for most employees.

"Just remember one thing, that you could be opening Pandoras box, because the argument would be that if your service tasks can be all covered from anywhere and you need no office in the UK, business could offshore jobs more easily to low cost, low regulation Countries we don't have the protection of a unique language. You may be able to stop existing businesses offshoring easily but new business wouldn't be under any restrictions and we British don't protect our own industries, we weren't prepared to buy mugs for £15-£20 each to protect our pottery industry when we could import them for £2."

You are absolutely right and it is a real concern, but it is not as if I just invented home-working the facts are that market forces will probably force it to happen anyway, and it will be up to a British Government and the EU to ensure that peoples jobs and standard of living are secured. Hence why I suggest a massive tax on companies that trade services in the uk but use foreign workers.

Yet Another Anon

I don't think that Income Tax should be used as a method of social manipulation, it's purpose is to raise revenue nothing more - I rather favour moving away from direct taxes more to indirect taxes as well as cutting tax & spending overall. I rather agree with Nigel Lawson that tax relief schemes just raise the main rates and mean a lower threshold than otherwise and increased bureacracy to deal with a more complicated system.

DavidTBreaker

Firstly, thanks everyone for voting and taking part in the discussion. I'm glad it was interesting enough to cause a debate.

Answering some questions then. I am in favour of lower taxes, full stop. However as there is only ever limited revenues to spend on tax cuts, especially with DC, we have to prioritise which taxes are cut based on the economic benefits from cutting each the various taxes. This tax cut will encourage more homeworking, reducing much unemployment and incapacity claims, and so hopefully saving the taxpayers money. In short we've got to spend the money where it will generate the most revenue/returns.

It will also make us more competitive compared to overseas services. As we are a largely services based economy, remaining competitive is vital. Therefore tax cuts in this area are really a priority (they can outsource services but not retail etc). We have to specialise, and a tax break for our selected specialism is one way of encouraging this (just look at Jersey etc).

I do not think increased homeworking will increase outsourcing to overseas firms, as it will reduce costs here and make us more competitive. Furthermore, I think the public are fed up with hard to understand call centres and Barclays already advertise themselves as having UK call centres. Costs overseas will rise eventually anyway.

As for H&S, the regulations need slimming down in a lot of places. Computers must pass a safety test to be sold, so we can trust ourselves to buy one. If you sit on a bad chair or fall off at home, even if working, it's your own fault, you didn't have to. Otherwise we'll have schools being sued for making teenagers do their homework on 'unsafe kitchen tables and chairs'...

I'm generally against social manipulation, but all taxes and tax cuts are manipulative in some way or another. This would be a good Cameron proof tax cut to boost the services sector, reduce unemployment and benefit claims thus saving more money, reduce congestion, reduce the strain on the South East, reduce pollution... As for finding the £1.5bln, perhaps sacking the £2bln of advisors or leaving the EU?

Thanks again for voting everyone.

Yet Another Anon

However as there is only ever limited revenues to spend on tax cuts, especially with DC
You make him sound a bit like Kim-Il-Sung - I think that David Cameron is somewhat short on substance and rather eager if anything to avoid actually saying anything definitive, indeed even trying to out-Socialist Tony Blair, but especially is rather a strong word to use in that context.

DavidTBreaker

Yet Another Anon, I wouldn't say especially is too stronger word, given that we've had a fairly clear statement on tax. I'm not portraying DC as Kim-Ill-Sung, or anyone or anything else for that matter.

Emma Jones

As the Editor of the UK's fastest growing website for homeworkers at www.enterprisenation.com I would agree with the earlier post that people are voting with their feet and heading home to work. I'm not sure that any tax incentive is required.

What is required is an acceptance from employers that homeworking increases productivity and staff retention (mentioned in a previous comment) and promoting homeworking as a modern way of working as there remains a slight stigma attached to homeworking. Our site seeks to remedy this as well as offer information and inspiration to homeworkers across the UK.

We watch political developments with interest and have been impressed with David Cameron's words relating to homeworking and work/life balance and would like to see a comprehensive strategy that reflects teh positive impact homeworking has on the economy, environment and society.

We will play our part and in January will be launching a campaign to lobby for 'Flexible Working Rights For All.'

Alex Scattergood

I think the key thing is not to hand out tax cuts but encourage change.

If its just tax cuts Large companies will register all their employees as homeworkers and take the tax breaks. Smaller companies probably won't have time to administer it.

Self Employed / small home based business owners will probably already claim rent & utilities against tax (about £300 - 500 annually). Yes it does cost that sort of money to supply the extra phone line, heating, lighting, office space, coffee / tea & insurance at home. I think this has to be restricted to companies with rateable office premises and let the self employed / micro businesses continue reclaiming costs via their accounts.

Of course the ecological savings in Petrol on the commute may well be wasted on gas heating / cooling homes all day. With the distribution of workers, company initiatives to reduce carbon footprints may be less effective.

H & S legislation quite rightly covers workers wherever they are, good companies should be ensuring Display screen assesments etc are completed for all staff. Just dismissing this as over regulation will allow companies to force workers home with inadequate equipment and space and pay them poorly for piece work. Do we want to go back to subsistence cottage industries?

Rather than just reaching for a chequebook lets think of more innovative ways to drive this.

Perhaps encourage / subsidise 'virtual PABXs', ADSL equipment supplied for staff, development of distributed WAN's locked to staff homes, aggregation of telephone costs to central sites. Encourage local government backed 'drop in' offices that workers can walk to where parking spaces are charged at a premium.

However the loss of direct supervisory control would require more invasive monitoring of remote staff, the problem is most companies are afraid of doing that because it may play against them in any Employment Tribunal.

The other thing is that the 4 days a week commitment is too high, a sliding scale would be more useful.Maybe an annual home days declaration on the P60/P35? As companies see the benefit they may well move staff into home working posts.

Alex Scattergood

As to trading services supplied overseas, one major thing we should be doing is ensuring our overseas competitors adhere to similar employment regulations that we do in the UK.

This should be a basic requirement to supply products or services to the UK, countries / overseas companies not willing to comply will either be unable to trade or face heavy levies.

To extend this we should also impose carbon footprint / miles taxation on imports of goods & services ensuring any energy cuts we make by changing to energy saving light bulbs and taxing non hybrids off the roads aren't instantly wiped out by China opening another coal fired power station. Lord Hesselitine suggested something along these lines on 'Question time' and it made a lot of sense.

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