A couple of weeks on from the 2017 Autumn Budget, the dust has settled. It’s fair to say that the reaction, from a contracting perspective at least, was mixed. On the one hand, the government took a big step closer towards extending its much-maligned clampdown on IR35 into the private sector. On the other, there was a clear effort at a more conciliatory approach towards the flexible working market than many expected. The immediate tax hikes and Draconian reform of previous years were replaced by a stream of consultations and discussion documents. An unsteady half step forward, then, rather than one giant leap back.
Regular readers of the Kingsbridge blog will already be aware that Insurance Premium Tax is rising to 12% from 1st June 2017. You can read our take on the increase here.
So what does it mean for you? If you’ve been putting off a necessary insurance purchase we’d recommend that you take advantage of the window between now and the end of May.
It’s worth noting that the saving only applies if your policy starts before 1st June. If you were to buy before that date but chose to have the cover start after then you would fall into the 12% bracket.
Getting your cover in place might not be the most exciting of prospects, but it makes sense to save as much money as you can.
If you’re a contractor or freelancer why not get in touch with Kingsbridge? We offer the simplest, most compliant, and most comprehensive self-employed insurance cover in the market. The best possible cover at an unbeatable price. What’s not to like? You can reach one of our friendly Customer Service Team on 01242 808740, or you can head on over to our website and get a quote by clicking the button below.
“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word,” Charles de Gaulle once noted. Although the principle isn’t quite the same in this case, it would seem that Phillip Hammond might be quite surprised at the disappointed reaction to his announcement that Class 4 NIC payments for the self-employed will rise by 2% up to 11% by 2019.
Why the consternation? Hammond’s announcement is a direct volte-face of a previous Tory manifesto commitment made by his predecessor as Chancellor, George Osborne. In fact, as Chuka Umunna noted on Twitter during the Budget announcement, the 2015 Conservative manifesto promised four times not to raise National Insurance.
2017 stands as something of an anomaly on the important political announcement front – the one and only time that there will be two Budgets in a single year. As noted by the Chancellor last November, the Autumn Statement has now ceased to be. Tomorrow’s spring Budget will be the last of its kind (for the foreseeable future at least), replaced by a yearly autumn Budget (commencing in autumn of this year), followed from 2018 onwards by a Spring Statement.
Confusing? Yes. A good idea? Definitely. By holding the Budget in the autumn it will allow for major tax changes to occur annually, well before the start of the fiscal year. The Spring Statement will then exist to respond to OBR forecasts, but will not be a major fiscal event in itself.
So what should contractors expect tomorrow? As always, it’s impossible to truly predict what will happen (take last year’s Autumn Statement as an unwelcome example) but there are a few key pointers to look out for. We don’t expect to see anything dramatic given that there will only be a 6 month gap between Budgets (not to mention the fact that the Government’s self-imposed 31st March deadline to begin the formal Brexit process is arriving at a startling pace) but there’s always room for a surprise or two. What do we already know, and what would we like to see? Read on below for our observations.
April’s IR35 changes have been looming large in the rear view mirror for some time now. With the self-assessment deadline having come and gone at the end of January, the focus of the contracting community has now fallen firmly upon Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget on 8th March, followed swiftly by the much-maligned changes in IR35 status for personal service company contractors in the public sector that are due to come into force from 6th April 2017. If labyrinthine policy change doesn’t fill you with vernal optimism, then we’re not sure what will.
Despite all the political, social, and economic doom and gloom that wrapped around 2016 like a suffocating vine, Britain’s self-employed continued to rage against the dying of the light. Damian Hinds, the current Employment Minister, recently hailed “the resilience of the UK labour market”, citing the fact that Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.8% – its lowest level in over a decade. Coupled with that, the Office of National Statistics’ employment report for July – September 2016 revealed that the number of self-employed rose to 4.79 million, an increase of 213,000 for the year. That figure now equates to over 15% of the total UK workforce.
Why mention the above? Because instead of the recognition and support they deserve, contractors, freelancers and the self-employed found themselves under sustained attack in the 2016 Autumn Statement.
Friday 16th September marked the day of the 2016 edition of the prestigious UK Broker Awards. Kingsbridge were nominated in four categories – the Digital Broker Award, the Best Employer Award, the Customer Service Award, and The Broker’s Insurer of the Year. We were delighted to take home the trophy for Customer Service, triumphing against some hardy competition. It was a just reward for the tremendous hard work our team put in every day, and we were particularly pleased to be recognised for our contribution by our peers and contemporaries within the industry.
Kingsbridge sent a delegation of 10 to attend and much fun was had by all. Expertly compered by Romesh Ranganathan, the day was a great success full of great food, sharp suits, and the occasional misplaced bid on a signed Eric Cantona shirt. We’d like to send a hearty congratulations to our fellow winners and nominees, and a big thanks to the team behind the awards for a superbly orchestrated day. Enjoy a selection of photos from the event below. Here’s to next year!
The idea of Legal Expenses cover may seem a bit scary, especially if you are just starting out as a contractor. After all, we’re sure you don’t intend on getting embroiled in any legal battles!
But, intentions aside, being a contractor does carry risks and it can be unexpectedly easy to find yourself in the middle of an unforeseen dispute — whether because of something you’ve done, or even because of something a client has done.
The Insurance Act 2015 came into effect on 12th August 2016, meaning there will be some changes to taking out and making a claim on your contractor insurance. The aim of the act is to modernise insurance law, making it simpler and easier for business customers to receive claims paid by insurers, whilst ensuring that insurance contracts are still fit for purpose.
So what are the big changes when it comes to your obligations?
With all the political machinations currently taking place, it’s easy to forget that the new tax year begins today. As of midnight on 6th April a number of new policies took effect, including several that’ll have an impact on contractors and independent professionals. Although the most recent Budget still looms rather large in the proverbial rear-view mirror, these changes relate to the Budget that took place in July last year.
First and foremost, the tax rules surrounding dividends are now changing. The first £5,000 of dividend income earned by shareholders will be completely free of tax, with any amounts over that initial marker being taxed at 7.5% (for any income falling within the basic rate band). Beyond that, higher rate and additional rate earnings will also be subject to higher tax levels of 32.5% and 38.1% respectively. Although this will likely affect the take-home pay of many contractors, it could be by as little as 2% to 4% (see this article on ContractorUK for a more detailed breakdown).