ContractorCalculator: Contracting news in brief – 13/July/2012

IT contractor demand bounces back in June

Demand for IT contractors bounced back in June, following the shock contraction in IT contractor demand during May. The June Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG Report on Jobs also showed strong demand for engineering and construction contractors. However, the good news for contractors is tempered by the backdrop of a sharply deteriorating UK labour market experiencing the steepest falls in staff placements in three years.

Marginal falls in online demand for core contracting disciplines

Online demand for IT and engineering contractors fell marginally during June, 0.8% and 1.8% respectively, in contrast to the Report on Jobs. And according to the Monster Employment Index for June, the pattern of marginal falls in online demand was repeated in construction, marketing and media and management. “Despite some stagnation in the economy, not all is bad in the UK’s labour market,” says Julian Acquari, Managing Director of Monster UK & Ireland. “We’ve retained the same level of online job demand as this time last year and have seen significant growth across many professional industries.” More...

IT contractor demand forecast to grow at twice UK average: e-skills

IT contractor demand is forecast to grow at twice the UK average worker demand to 2020, with 129,000 new contract and permanent recruits required to fill new IT roles and replace those leaving the sector. Skills council e-skills UK’s Technology Insights 2012 also reveals that the highest levels of contract and employment growth will be “in high skill areas like software professionals, ICT managers, and IT strategy and planning professionals.” The number of advertised contract and permanent vacancies has recovered from a low point of 82,000 per quarter in 2009 to more than 116,000 per quarter in 2011. More...

New report highlights offshore safety improvements for oil and gas contractors

A new report by industry body Oil & Gas UK will for the first time provide oil and gas contractors with a single source of up-to-date offshore safety information. Oil & Gas UK’s Health & Safety Report is set to become an annual feature detailing safety performance, safety-related projects and a look ahead to future initiatives. “The report serves to underline the fact that the UK has one of the most robust offshore health and safety regimes in the world,” explains Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director Robert Paterson. “Despite being a major hazard industry, the oil and gas sector is outperforming many other UK sectors in terms of non-fatal injuries to workers – with only education and finance doing better.”

Media contractors “ordered” to set up service companies by BBC

Media contractors have been “ordered” to set up limited companies so that the BBC can avoid making employer’s National Insurance Contributions (NICs), claims Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski. According to a Press Association story published by the Guardian, Kawczynski also claims that contractors have been threatened with termination if they fail to incorporate. In a subsequent Guardian article by Mark Sweney, the BBC defended the practice, telling Sweney that “the practice is in no way illegal and that the government is well aware of the practice across the broadcasting industry.” More...

Contractor client pool increases as online marketplace for contractors and freelancers grows to 4m users

UK contractors and freelancers can now access an even greater pool of potential clients via a single portal. The online marketplace for contractors and freelancers,, has grown to 4m users following its acquisition of Canadian freelancer site Scriptlance. UK-based contractors and freelancers seeking to grow their contracting business may also benefit from Scriptlance’s strengths in crowdfunding, as the Canadian freelancer site was an early adopter of attracting project financing using the crowdfunding approach. More...

Marketing and interim management contractors impacted by sector budget cuts

Marketing and interim management contractors working outside of the digital marketing and sales promotion arena are facing the possibility of reduced rates and resources due to marketing budget cuts. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Bellwether – 2012 Q2 report shows marketing spend was down marginally in the quarter, although digital marketing and sales promotion budgets were revised upwards. Clients have been focusing on generating sales revenues, as Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson explains: “The focus has been on cutting back on main media advertising, direct marketing and below-the-line activities and reallocating that money towards sales promotions and the internet.”

Contractors moving closer to HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) for PAYE

Contractors are gradually moving closer to next year’s October 2013 deadline when HMRC will require all employers to submit real time Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income tax payroll records online. The pilot scheme, which started in April 2012, has imported over 1.7m records from 338 PAYE schemes to date. A further 1,300 employers will be joining the trial by September. Umbrella company contractors are unlikely to experience little disruption but contractor accountancy advisors are still debating the likely impact on limited company contractors.

Uncertainty at the top of UK’s biggest firms may benefit contractors

Contractors may benefit from the uncertainty and falling confidence shown by finance directors of the UK’s largest corporates. The Deloitte CFO Survey shows that “worries about recession and a breakup of the euro have knocked business confidence”, resulting in “hiring, capital spending and discretionary spending declining over the next year.” Evidence from labour market surveys suggests that clients hire contractors during periods of uncertainty as a low risk option when compared to employees. With the UK economy back in recession and the eurozone crisis showing no signs of an early resolution, contractors across all sectors may find themselves in greater demand.

Contractors unlikely to be affected by HMRC’s latest tax taskforces

Contractors are unlikely to be affected by HMRC’s latest tax taskforce campaign which is targeting a range of different sectors and UK regions. HMRC has set itself a target of £30m of unpaid tax to be recovered by what it describes as “tax dodgers” operating pubs and clubs in Scotland, hair and beauty salons in Northern Ireland and the motor trade and restaurants in the Welsh and English regions.

Published: Friday, July 13, 2012

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