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).
George Osborne’s latest Budget as Chancellor passed today as expected, with no real surprises. There was good news for the self-employed, but the spectre of a clampdown on the use of Personal Service Companies (PSCs) by public sector employees still looms like a heavy cloud.
As we’ve mentioned on these pages before, Osborne’s tightening of the vice on the so-called ‘Paxman tax’ comes predominantly as a result of public outcry at perceived tax evasion by celebrities and sports stars. However, such measures will also impact those contractors working in the public sector, meaning that from April 2017 they will now face investigation from their clients and agencies to confirm whether they are ‘true contractors’ or simply a ‘disguised employee’. If the client or agency believes that the contractor in question is a disguised employee, it will be required to deduct tax at source from all payments made.
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.