ContractorCalculator: Contracting news in brief - 18/Nov/2011

Contractors can expect expert solutions to real contracting challenges from NFD webinars

Contractors logging on to the Freelance Webinars on National Freelancers Day on 23 November 2011 can expect answers to real contracting challenges. The solutions will be delivered online by a range of experts, including former Al Gore speechwriter Dan Pink and ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin. “Last year over a million people were touched by National Freelancers Day and many of them had serious questions about the business of freelancing,” says John Brazier, Managing Director of PCG, which is behind National Freelancers Day. “This year we have reached out to experts across the world to answer these questions across a series of webinars...”

Contractors’ views on simplifying the tax system sought by government

Contractors are being asked their views on what areas of the personal tax system cause them most difficulty, and how technology might help. The new discussion document, Modernising the administration of the personal tax system: Tax Transparency for Individuals will, according to Exchequer Secretary David Gauke, “lift the lid on tax so that people understand how much they are paying”. Contractors have until 24 February 2012 to make their views known by email to More…

Contractors unlikely to see IR35’s demise via an income tax and NIC merger

Contractors are unlikely to see IR35 become irrelevant through the merging of income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs). In its Next Steps consultation document, the government sets out the responses to its consultations so far, and how it plans to involve stakeholders, including contractors and their advisers, in further consultations on merging the operation of income tax and NICs. What it does not discuss is the possibility of actually merging income tax and NICs, which means it is almost certain there will continue to be a tax advantage for contractors to take remuneration via dividends rather than employment income. Also, IR35 is likely to remain in force.

Contractor demand fell sharply in September, but was this just a blip?

Contractor demand fell by 13% in September 2011, compared to September 2010, according to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies’ (APSCo) Monthly Trends report. Hardest hit were IT contractors and the financial sector, where vacancies fell 27% and 34% respectively. However, the research is based on contractor vacancy data from September 2011. Subsequent labour market reports such as the Monster Employment Index and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG Report on Jobs have shown signs of contractor demand recovering, so these figures could be a temporary blip. More…

Self-employment reaches record high: are more workers choosing contracting?

More workers are likely to be choosing contracting as a career choice, and as a better alternative to being out of permanent employment. Although the latest Labour market statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows unemployment increasing by 129,000 between July to September, the number of self-employed workers grew by 100,000 over the same period to reach a record-breaking 4.086m. The bulletin also revealed that growth in pay across the whole economy during the period was 2.3%, well below the rate of inflation. More…

Contractors may yet face fall-out from the Agency Workers Regulations: CBI/Harvey Nash survey

Contractors may yet be the indirect casualties of a client backlash following the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) coming into force on 1 October 2011. According to the latest Confederation of British Industry (CBI)/Harvey Nash employment trends survey, 20% of clients are planning a reduction of their temporary workforce, against 16% planning to increase contractor hiring. Overall, the survey reports that respondents are upbeat about the future, with 47% expecting their workforce to increase in size over the next 12 months. More…

Contractor opportunities may arise from clients locked in ‘wait and see’ mode

Contractors may benefit from the uncertainty gripping UK firms as permanent hiring decisions are deferred and employers hedge their bets. In its Quarterly Labour Market Outlook, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that whilst private sector firms remain strongly positive about hiring intentions, the pace of growth is slowing and recruitment is being scaled back. The report also reveals that engineering vacancies top the table of roles hardest to fill. More…

Oil & gas contractors will benefit from 30 years of North Sea decommissioning

Oil and gas contractors are set to benefit from a potential 30-year contract bonanza, as decommissioning North Sea infrastructure is forecast to take three decades and cost £47 bn. This is according to the North Sea Offshore Decommissioning Report published by Deloitte and energy consulting and research specialist Douglas-Westwood. The report also claims that existing oilfield services and engineering facilities won’t be up to the task, requiring a significant investment in new capacity into heavy lift vessels, onshore deconstruction facilities and the supply chain, potentially creating a significant stream of new contracts across multiple disciplines.

Contractors should target small firms, construction and manufacturing for new contracts

Contractors may find their next contract in a small to medium sized enterprise (SME), construction firm or manufacturing business. These sectors are performing particularly well, according to Bibby’s quarterly Business Factors Index. The index, which measures the performance of 3,500 of the business-to-business financial services firm’s clients, is at its highest level overall since the start of the financial crisis four years ago. However, business confidence has taken a battering, and the overall feeling is that the economy is not yet through the worst. More…

New online business tools from Business Link could be helpful to contractors

Contractors just starting their contracting career, and those already in business but seeking to up their game, can benefit from two new start-up services from Business Link. ‘My New Business’ is designed to guide a business through its early stages, while the ‘Growth and Improvement Service’ helps existing companies grow. However, despite including some useful tools, the new services are not specifically designed for contracting businesses, so specialist contractor accountants and lawyers, as well as sources like ContractorCalculator, should be consulted in parallel.

Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011

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