Welcome to the News & Blog

Here at ClearSky, we want to keep you up-to-date with all the latest hot topics that may affect you and your business. This could be anything from IR35 to new legislations.

Please feel free to browse the various categories, individual posts and make your comments known to the author.

Taxman slammed for helpline failures

HMRC has once again been hauled over hot coals regarding the support it provides to taxpayers, with a damning study branding its helpline facilities inadequate.

A survey by consumer group Which? revealed that callers were regularly experiencing long delays, with some even lasting up to 41 minutes. On average, taxpayers were on hold for 18 minutes, as the Revenue struggled to meet demand at peak times.

The revelation is one of several embarrassing failures exposed by the study, which also revealed glitches in HMRC’s voice recognition software. Which? found that the system was regularly misinterpreting callers’ reasons for getting in touch and sending them to the wrong department. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Tax issues | 1

Large firms gear up for 2015 hiring spree

Britain’s biggest companies are poised to lead the job creation charge in early 2015, according to new research by Manpower.

The recruitment group says large firms’ confidence and willingness to expand their workforce is at a 10-year high, with a net balance of 21% planning to hire more workers in the first three months of the New Year.

Companies in the utilities sector (comprising electricity, gas and water) are said to have the most bullish hiring plans, followed by those involved in finance & business services and agriculture. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Finance contractors switched on to smart meter rollout

The energy sector is proving to be a rich hunting ground for freelancers with experience in finance and accounting, a new study has found.

Figures released by recruitment firm Morgan McKinley reveal that the number of available roles for accountancy and finance professionals has surged within the energy and utilities sector. This has been attributed to an increase in investment in products such as smart meters.

Karen O’Flaherty, chief operations officer at Morgan McKinley Ireland, said: “While most sectors continue to show growth, there has been a swell of new jobs in accountancy & finance across the energy and utilities sectors. The energy market is on the cusp of change with investment in new assets and innovative new products. This is driving demand for professionals such as risk managers, energy traders and quantitative analysts.” … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

IT contractors ‘shielded from festive slowdown’

Contractors with ‘hot’ IT skills can expect demand for their services to be sustained over Christmas and into 2015, according to an industry expert.

Former IT contractor Dave Chaplin, founder and CEO of news site Contractor Calculator, was commenting on the latest Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The survey shows that IT & computing contractors were the most in-demand type of short-term worker in November. Recruiters had particular difficulty sourcing candidates with expertise in business analysis and Java. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Will a lack of niche skills damage oil and gas contractors?

Contractors who do not possess specialist skills could find it increasingly difficult to find assignments in the oil and gas sector, a new study has warned.

Research from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) has found that while 57% of operators and 54% of contracting & services firms have hired more workers over the past 12 months, the focus has been on taking on permanent employees. More worryingly, half of operators recorded a reduction in contract staff this year, with almost two thirds expecting a further cut in 2015.

Despite this gloomy outlook, demand for contractors with niche skills continues to be high. This is particularly true in areas such as managerial & professional and technical. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Will maternity pay plans spark a rise in female contractors?

The government’s proposals to introduce maternity pay for the self-employed could encourage more women to ditch “traditional” employment and take up contracting.

Matthew Hancock, minister for business, enterprise and energy, made the announcement as part of National Freelancers Day. He claimed the Conservatives were busy drawing up policies for its election manifesto that would help make life easier for contractors.

The move was described as a “real breakthrough” in the way self-employed professionals are viewed by the government, particularly the ever-growing number of women who choose to work for themselves. It is also a nod to the increasing number of people moving away from “traditional” employment in order to take control of their own destiny. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Uncertainty ‘risks undermining confidence in tax system’

Policymakers must shore up the UK’s tax system to make it is easy to understand and adhere to, according to a professional body.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) warned that failure to do so will reduce domestic confidence in the system and may discourage investment. Its Certainty in Tax report called for an “underlying clarity and coherence of purpose”, coupled with “consistent messaging from policymakers.”

ACCA argued that the government should clearly communicate to taxpayers the aim of each new measure it introduces, so that they understand exactly what is expected of them. Report author Jason Piper urged businesses and the state to engage in “regular and constructive dialogue” to aid transparency and certainty. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Could Belfast be next on the tax devolution roadshow?

It seems tax devolution plans are like buses – you wait years for one and then two come along in quick succession.

Hot on the heels of the news that Scotland is to be granted control of its tax affairs, plans are reportedly afoot to allow Northern Ireland to govern its own Corporation Tax regime. There is even speculation that this could be announced as early as today in the Autumn Statement.

The move is seen to be a ploy by George Osborne to garner the support of the Democratic Unionist Party, given that devolution is unlikely to occur before May’s election. In return for relinquishing control, the chancellor is expected to cut the size of the block grant (the amount of public expenditure Westminster allocates to Northern Ireland) by around £450 million. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Scotland gets green light for tax devolution

The Scottish government looks set to be given full control over the nation’s tax affairs, following a climb down by the Labour party.

Holyrood will be granted powers to set Income Tax rates and bands as part of an £11 billion package aimed at halting the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) surge in popularity. This follows lengthy cross-party discussions to thrash out an agreement in time to meet the deadline set by former prime minister Gordon Brown.

The new measures have been described as the “biggest shakeup to the British taxation system in the modern era” and include devolution of certain benefits. Attendance & carers allowance, the work programme, winter fuel payments and air passenger duty powers will all be transferred to Holyrood. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Taxman clamps down on property tax dodgers

HMRC has set its sights on individuals who try and dodge property tax, warning “we will find you and investigate.”

The Revenue last month launched a special taskforce to tackle the problem, using intelligence garnered from the Valuation Office Agency. It expects the crackdown will yield £5 million in unpaid levies.

Individuals who have sold one or more properties without paying Capital Gains Tax or disclosed rental income will be targeted by the initiative. The taxman warned that anyone caught not playing by the rules risks a hefty fine and a criminal record. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Tax issues | Leave a comment: