After what could’ve been a challenging year for the contracting community passed without being, well, quite so challenging (evidence here and here), more positive news was received today in the 41-page shape of Julie Deane’s government commissioned independent report on self-employment. You can read Deane’s report in full here (and we encourage you to do so), but the takeaway was one many contractors, and the self-employed in general, would wholeheartedly agree with: more support is required.
Below you’ll find our latest round-up of contractor relevant news stories that have surfaced over the past few weeks. We’re starting to see a lot of chatter around HMRC’s new IR35-specific ESI tool, rumoured to be coming into play in the spring. Read on for news on that, as well the other subjects that have caught the eye at Kingsbridge over the last week or two.
“Speaking at the December IR35 Forum, HM Revenue & Customs said its aim was to have a beta version of an “IR35 specific ESI tool” by “spring 2016”.
HMRC’s Mark Frampton also told the forum that the hope is for the tool to provide “clearances” on status, much as the Contract Review Service is meant to now, to a “mass” of contractors.”
The beginning of the year can be a stressful time for everyone, with new resolutions to keep to, the return to work after Christmas excess, and the cold days of winter. For contractors, there’s also the added burden of the self-assessment deadline looming large at the end of January (the 31st to be exact). We can’t ever promise to make doing your tax returns any more fun (although we find a glass or two of wine tends to help), but we can give you some tips to help the process go more smoothly for this year and the years beyond. We know your time is at a premium so we’ll get on with our guide without any further fuss:
Make sure you submit your tax return on time
It might sound like a given, but you’d be surprised at the number of horror stories we’ve heard about contractors leaving things too late and not making the deadline (which, to remind you again, is 11:59pm on 31st January). If your tax return arrives after this point you’ll pick up a £100 fine. So check those internet connections, make sure you know where all your paperwork is, and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need.
Kingsbridge have many years of experience in the contracting industry, and we’ve used our expertise to put together a comprehensive, compliant, and competitive insurance solution specifically tailored to meet the needs of contractors, freelancers, and independent professionals. Our policy package offers all the key insurances limited company contractors require in one easy to manage product, including professional indemnity, public liability and employers’ liability, meaning only one policy is needed to cover a contractor’s main exposures.
Today saw the release of the Draft Finance Bill 2016. After an Autumn Statement surprisingly devoid of any mention of changes to IR35 rules, despite significant pre-Statement speculation to the contrary, most members of the contracting community expected to see changes announced in today’s draft Bill. However, IR35 was once again conspicuous by its absence.
Any proposals for change that may have been happening behind government walls are staying there for the time being. The Draft Finance Bill did include the changes to tax relief on Travel and Subsistence expenses where a contract is inside IR35 that were announced in the Autumn Statement. However, the lack of any IR35 reform suggests the government took heed of the advice of the stakeholders they consulted, as well as the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the proposed changes from the contracting community as a whole.
In a letter received by Nick Holmes, CEO of Umbrella.co.uk, and timed to coincide with the release of the Draft Finance Bill, the Chancellor stated: “We will be considering this issue carefully before taking any further decisions. Should any further changes be introduced they would be subject to detailed consultation before publishing any draft legislation.”
Whether this means that the Government are simply biding their time, or whether they have abandoned their plans for IR35 reform altogether, remains to be seen. It seems now that all eyes have moved to the next Budget statement on 16th March 2016.
A note from Steve Wynne, Kingsbridge CEO:
The growth and success of the Kingsbridge group is one of my greatest achievements in life. In turn, I believe that one of the most important parts of running a successful business is giving back to those who need help most. With Kingsbridge having been involved in the water industry in one form or another for more than 25 years, WaterAid is a charity close to my heart.
Kingsbridge began working with WaterAid in 2008, and since then we’ve contributed over £37,000 to their ongoing work in Nepal by donating some of the profits from our business. Our donations have helped to change thousands of lives and have left a lasting legacy in global communities through access to clean, safe water.
Today we’re publicising the presentation of our latest cheque to WaterAid. We’re not doing this to give ourselves a pat on the back, but to draw attention to the brilliant work WaterAid do. Philanthropy has always been a cornerstone of the Kingsbridge business in all its forms, and we plan to continue our strong support as our business continues to grow.
The need for access to clean water in Nepal is greater than ever after the devastating earthquake that hit the region earlier this year. Over 3.3 million people in the country don’t have access to safe water, and over 17 million people (more than half of the entire population) don’t have access to adequate sanitation. 1,927 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. It’s facts like these that we want to consign to history, and our donations go some way towards equipping WaterAid in the fight to give the people of Nepal the basic quality of life all humans deserve.
We’ll be embarking on further fundraising initiatives in collaboration with WaterAid in the near future, and we’ll be publicising our efforts both on the Kingsbridge blog and in an area of the Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance website dedicated to corporate social responsibility. We’ll also be posting a presentation on the blog from WaterAid shortly about the impact our support has had on their projects across the globe.
You can read more about WaterAid’s work in Nepal here, and you can donate to them here. Every £1 you donate to WaterAid’s Deliver Life appeal between 10th November 2015 and 10th February 2016 will be doubled (up to £5 million) by the UK government.
The challenge is to make sure those in need have access to the things we take for granted – clean water, toilets, and hygiene. I believe that challenge begins with a simple gesture: a donation to those who can help.
Despite numerous rumours to the contrary over the past few weeks, professional contractors broadly came out of the 2015 Autumn Statement unscathed (for now at least). Recent reports from HM Treasury had suggested that contractors would no longer be able to work for a single client for an uncapped period and would have to move onto the payroll after one month, but no mention was made of this in the Chancellor’s speech or in the ‘blue book’ released immediately afterwards.
It seems likely that any proposals for changes to IR35 legislation will be pushed back to April 2017. A press release from APSCo, circulated shortly after the conclusion of the Autumn Statement, stated: “It appears that, following the overwhelming negative response from business as a whole and a rigorous press and lobbying campaign by APSCo, the Government has chosen to think more carefully about the unintended consequences of the proposals.”
Samantha Hurley, Head of External Relations and Compliance at APSCo, followed up by saying:
“Of course, the lack of an announcement in the Autumn Statement doesn’t mean that the Government won’t go forward with this proposal in the future, but it does almost certainly mean that it won’t come into effect in April, 2016, which is what we feared.”
Wednesday 25th November will be a big day for the contracting community. George Osborne will be delivering the first purely Conservative Autumn Statement. Following on from a summer Budget which wasn’t exactly contractor friendly, it’s heavily rumoured that the Chancellor will be addressing the contentious issue of IR35 – either offering a proposal for further reform, or at very least the introduction of further consultation. Of course, despite all the speculation, what will actually be said currently remains unknown.
It seems as though changes will be announced that will see PSC contractors no longer being able to work for a single client for an uncapped amount of time. Although earlier rumours suggested that contractors would be obliged to move onto the payroll of their client after one month of work, it now seems that will not be the case as long as they pass a new version of the ESI test. However, who must decide whether or not the contractor is inside IR35 (i.e. which contractual party will stop proceedings as early as four weeks in) remains unclear.
Join us from 9am on Wednesday 25th as we live Tweet the Autumn Statement, followed by our reaction later in the day and an in depth look at exactly what kind of impact the current Conservative government has had on the contracting community.
As you’ve seen on the blog in the past few weeks, we’ve been revisiting some of our favourite posts from the past year that you may have missed. We’ll be beginning original programming again shortly, but this week we wanted to draw your attention to one of our favourite infographics – the story of fracking in the UK.
There has been a slow-burning but very real concern rising in the UK due to the impending energy crisis. The threat of power cuts has been highlighted due to falling electricity margins, along with the need for the UK to pursue more renewable energy strategies. This has led to much ink being spilled in the British press on the issue of hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking.
Fracking is the process of harvesting shale gas, deposits of which are found trapped in shale rock deep underground. A high pressure mix of water and chemicals is shot down specially drilled wells with the aim of releasing the gas.
There have been a great number of discussions about the safety of fracking; with some saying it poses a threat to the purity of drinking water, while others highlight fracking as the only real, actionable solution to Britain’s fuel shortage. Whatever the case, it’s fair to say that fracking has divided the opinion of the British public and is set to dominate the discussion around energy production for a significant amount of time.
We have decided to take a look at the story of fracking, and the pros and cons it offers the British energy industry by producing a scrolling infographic, taking in the past, present and future of fracking in the UK.
One of the most important parts of what we do here at Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance is finding out what it is our customers do for work. As the list of professions and roles we cover continues to grow, so does our list of job titles. We consider ourselves to be experts in every field we cover, but on occasion there are jobs that even we have to Google before setting up a contractor with insurance. In the first of a series featuring all of the industries we cover, we take a look at what some of the more confounding job titles and specific areas within the Oil & Gas industry actually mean.