Weekend Reading – 29/03/18

Contractor News

Read on for this week’s news round-up. We’re taking a look at a variety of topics, from IR35 and Brexit to the banking and finance industry:

Businesses face unanswered questions a year from Brexit – sector by sector analysis

“With only a year to go until Britain leaves the EU, a mounting backlog of unresolved problems is causing business to take evasive action – despite government attempts to buy more time with a transition deal.

More than half of large companies have already put emergency contingency plans into action, according to a survey, and in key sectors such as insurance and transport there are warnings of higher prices and disruption for customers if the fragile truce breaks down.

British and EU governments last week agreed to postpone discussions over Northern Ireland in order to provisionally agree that a 21-month transition phase could begin after March 2019, but only so long as outstanding disagreements are solved nearer the time.”

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Weekend Reading – 23/03/18

Kingsbridge News

We’ll be rounding up a selection of interesting stories we’ve found once a week for your reading pleasure. Click on the links below to read the full article.

Ikea rolls out nationwide assembly services with TaskRabbit

“The Swedish furniture retailer announced plans on Tuesday to roll out a program with labor marketplace TaskRabbit nationwide. Customers can book a “tasker” through TaskRabbit to assemble their Ikea furniture for a flat price depending on the size of the item.

The service is currently available in New York City and San Francisco locations and will be released in more major cities throughout the year. Customers also may signup for the service online in locations where TaskRabbit is already available.”

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Why was the Spring Statement so short?

Spring Statement

Although it came in at slightly over the previously estimated 20 minutes last week’s Spring Statement was still a refreshing departure from the normal bluster that surrounds political policy announcements. But why was it so trimmed down?

No major policy changes

Normally, government Budget announcements are awash with fiscal policy changes and everything from income tax to duty paid on a pint of lager can be up for a rethink. However, 2018 has seen the start of a new format, where the Spring Statement will be reserved for responses to OBR data alongside a few key updates. The Autumn Budget (which usually takes place in November) will be where all of the major financial changes will be put forward. On the whole, this was borne out yesterday with little-to-no mention of policy, other than references to reform and legislation that had already previously been announced.

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How contractors and freelancers can get into shape for the new tax year

Contractor Tax Tips

While it’s vital to make sure you’re prepared for the end of this tax year, it’s also good practice for contractors and freelancers to make sure they’re in shape for the next tax year too. A bit of organisation and preparation can save you time later on, making the whole Self-Assessment process much easier.

At Kingsbridge, we’ve been helping contractors with their insurance needs for a long time, so we like to think we’re in good position to provide some advice. So, let us share our tips for how to get yourself into shape for the 2018/2019 tax year.

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Protecting Your Business From Cyber Attacks

Protecting Your Business

Anyone with half an eye on the news in recent months will have noticed the increased spate of cyber attacks taking place. A recent report from the Association of British Insurers noted that 74% of SMEs are reported to have suffered a security breach in the past 12 months alone.

What does this have to do with me, you might ask? You work for yourself. You don’t have to worry about multinational IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Individual workers are often the weakest link in the security chain. A recent IBM investigation noted that 95% of cyber security breaches are down to human error. With cyber crime quickly becoming a multifaceted, dynamic and constantly evolving threat to security it’s imperative that you protect yourself.

Most small business owners don’t take cyber security seriously. They think that their business is too small to attract the attention of a hacker. That laissez-faire attitude, however, is exactly the reason why 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses – hackers are aware that most SMEs don’t invest in cyber security. How can you protect your business from attacks? Here are a few of our top tips:

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A Brief History of Cyber Attacks

Cyber Liability

When it comes to cyber attacks, it’s often only the big corporation on the receiving end of the breach that makes the headlines. What people don’t often consider is the long chain of risk that generally allows such attacks to happen in the first place.

Although the entry point for any breach often remains undisclosed, it is generally an individual at ground level who is most fallible. In fact, a recent Verizon study identified that 77% of data breaches involved an insider, whilst a recent IBM investigation noted that 95% of cyber security breaches are down to human error.

That’s why we always recommend that you take out adequate insurance cover if you work in any area that could be digitally vulnerable.

Don’t take our word for it though. Read on below for some examples of the most notorious cyber attacks to happen in the 21st century.

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Spring Budget 2017: Reaction Round-Up

Spring Budget Round-Up

It already seems like a lifetime since the Chancellor presented his controversial Spring Budget last Wednesday. It’s fair to say that Mr. Hammond probably feels a good few years older this week than last, but breaking a set-in-stone manifesto promise and incurring the combined wrath of the national press and Britain’s many million strong army of self-employed will do that to you. Of course, his announcement that Class 4 NIC payments for the self-employed will rise by 2% up to 11% by 2019 has since been reversed in one of the more embarrassing political u-turns of recent times, but doubts still remain.

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Christmas as a contractor

Christmas as  Contractor

 

Unless you’ve specifically planned to take Christmas off, the festive period can leave some contractors feeling at a bit of a loose end. While to many it’s a happy time to spend with family and friends, to some it can be a time of financial worry where work just isn’t forthcoming because everyone else is off.

We’ve got some tips to help you get through the festive period with your sanity in tact!

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Brexit: The Contractor’s View

In or out? Remain or leave? The question is a simple one, but rarely has there been such fevered debate around any topic as there has been about the upcoming EU referendum. With just over a week to go until the votes are cast, it would seem that no one is entirely certain as to which way the vote will swing. A damning indictment of two poorly orchestrated campaigns both beset by dubious propaganda and petty infighting, or simply a true reflection of public hand-wringing over the most important political and economic decision in a generation?

It’s not for us to say which way we’d like the vote to go, but it’s imperative that we give our clients a voice. Contractors, freelancers, and the self-employed make a huge contribution to the UK economy but it seems little consideration has been given to how a Brexit would impact their way of working. As David Cameron recently noted, “the self-employed are a key part of our long-term economic plan for the country” and we believe their views should not be ignored.

We recently sent out a survey to our customer base asking a few key questions. Will they be heading to the polls? How will they be voting? Are they worried about the impact a Brexit would have on their jobs and businesses, or are they looking forward to a new dawn?

 

Kingsbridge Referendum Infographic

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Budget 2016: What Contractors Would Like To See

Budget 2016

It’s almost that time of year again. If you’re a regular reader of the Kingsbridge blog you’ll know that we’ve been following the potential impact of political changes on the contractor community for a while now. Whilst the outlook had seemed quite bleak going into the winter of 2015, following on from a relatively unfavourable summer Budget, the wider picture has become a little rosier since then. An uneventful Autumn Statement was followed up by a Draft Finance Bill surprisingly void of any mention of IR35, which in turn was followed up by Julie Deane’s thorough and balanced Self-Employment Review, arguing for more support for contractors and the self-employed.

So what should contractors expect when the next Budget is delivered on 16th March? There are strong rumours that the Chancellor is planning another increase in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT), up to 12.5%. Given that IPT was raised from 6% to 9.5% in November 2015, if the speculation was true it’d mean that the tax would be doubled in less than six months – a remarkable increase by any standard. Should it go ahead, an increase in IPT could raise as much as £1.3bn for the Treasury in the first year alone.

Such rumour gives credence to the feeling among many that the insurance industry is being singled out, as Treasury minister Harriet Baldwin MP more or less admitted recently in a letter to the AA, stating: “IPT is not a tax on consumers but on insurance companies.” BIBA (The British Insurance Brokers’ Association) also noted that a rise in IPT would discourage customers from taking out policies.

Speculation abounds that the Chancellor will also seek to end the abuse of PSC’s in a crackdown on what many see as an income tax loophole. Pushed firmly into the spotlight by the media in recent months due to the likes of Fiona Bruce and Jeremy Paxman setting themselves up as “one-man companies”, the Chancellor believes that the rules that were designed to help contractors and freelance workers are now widely abused and “completely unfair”.

With an £18bn “black hole” to plug as a result of the significant economic downturn in recent months, Osborne seems set to renew his efforts to tackle tax avoidance. Traditionally PSC’s were used by professional contractors doing short-term work for a number of clients. By paying corporation tax at 20% and taking a modest wage, plus dividends from the company, they save on both income tax and NI.

But abuse of the tax rules is estimated to help around 20,000 public sector workers who should pay equivalent taxes to other workers avoid on average over £3,500 a year in income tax and National Insurance contributions.

In future, the public sector body employing the worker will be responsible for deciding whether income should be taxed in the normal way as employment income, rather than leaving it up to the individual worker. New guidance will also be published to make it clearer when employment taxes should be paid.

A government source, quoted in the Telegraph, said:

“Personal service companies can be legitimate, but we estimate that 90 per cent of people who should comply with the rules, don’t.

“Some may not understand the rules but it’s clear others are using them as a way to minimise their tax bills. You have situations where someone working in a public body pays thousands of pounds less in tax than someone doing exactly the same job alongside them who’s taxed as an employee.

“That can’t be fair – either on the taxpayer or their fellow workers. We are going to put a stop to it.”

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