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.

Public sector jobs crash: contractors to the rescue?

Contractors look set to play a key role in keeping the wheels of government turning, as public-sector employment plummets to an all-time low.

Hailed as being “vital to the delivery of complex projects”, freelancers have a solid track record of supporting central and local government and other public services. This trend looks certain to continue following the latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The statistics reveal that public sector employment dropped by a further 11,000 to 5.39 million in the second quarter of the year – its lowest level since records began in 1999. Local government was hit hardest, shedding 10,000 positions over the last three months. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Blog | Leave a comment:

Survival of the fittest: recruiters bounce back after recession

The “great recession” hardened recruitment firms and helped them shore up financially, according to a new study.

Credit report provider Creditsafe claims that the economic downturn helped sort the wheat from the chaff, forcing poorly-managed and over-leveraged companies out of business. This battle for survival wiped out a total of 229 UK recruitment firms, leaving only the strongest behind.

Those that remained have gone on to strengthen their financial foundations, causing them to become more creditworthy in the process. Creditsafe’s ratings – a powerful predictor of company insolvency – improved for staffing firms from 46.8 to 49.0 between 2012 and 2013. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Labour urged to support freelancing’s “forgotten middle”

Labour must adopt a proactive freelancing agenda if it wants to be progressive and innovative on the subject, according to the party’s business group.

In its recent report, the Labour Finance and Industry Group calls on the party to focus its attention on the genuine freelancers who occupy the “forgotten middle”. It argues that successive governments have continued to concentrate on the extremes of the contracting marketplace, such as tax avoidance and forced self-employment.

The booklet, entitled ‘The Freelancing Agenda’, proposes the creation of a new charter designed to empower contractors and give them the recognition they deserve. It also calls for the creation of a minister for self-employment and urges other organisations to develop their own policies to achieve this. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: News | Leave a comment:

Weak tax system ‘costs UK billions in oil revenue’

The UK’s weak tax system has caused it to miss out on billions in oil revenues in just six years, according to an energy industry campaigner.

Mika Minio-Paluello, of the energy think-tank Platform, made the claim as part of his case for Scottish independence. He said that £74 billion was lost between 2002 and 2012, arguing that the current system acted like “corporate welfare” – delivering huge profits to multinationals with minimal public benefit.

According to Mr Minio-Paluello, Britain managed to collect only $21.50 per barrel of oil in 2008, compared to the $48.50 achieved by Norway in the same year. He argued that an independent Scotland would be able to set its own tax agenda, perhaps following the Scandinavian example. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Independent professionals: Britain’s “secret weapon”

A new report has hailed contractors and self-employed professionals as Britain’s economic secret weapon.

In its pre-election manifesto, the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) argues that the government is failing to adequately support the growing number of people choosing to work for themselves. It points to a seismic shift in the UK’s jobs landscape, which has seen the country described as the “self-employment capital of Western Europe.”

The association claims that ministers are displaying a “piecemeal approach” to supporting these individuals, and is calling for “bold and joined-up thinking.” It states that further action is needed to make it easier to become self employed, particularly in areas such as infrastructure and tax. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

5 hot IT skills clients are desperate for

Technology news site zdnet.com has identified five key areas that IT contractor clients are crying out for. Carving a niche in one or more of these areas will enable contractors to build thriving careers and ensure they are always number one on a company’s speed dial.

Web & mobile app development

Applications are fast-becoming more web-based and mobile focused, with skills such as ASP.Net, Java/J2EE and Ruby gaining greater currency. Familiarity with the concepts and practices of Agile software developments and DevOps should also prove useful. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment:

Tax scheme investors hit with payment notices

Thousands of investors in alleged tax avoidance schemes have been told to expect some unwelcome post from HMRC.

According to The Times newspaper, the first so-called accelerated payment notices (APNs) are now starting to land on doorsteps. Celebrities including Gary Barlow, David Beckham, Ant & Dec and Andrew Lloyd Webber are reportedly amongst more than 43,000 investors being targeted by the taxman.

Under new rules, anyone deemed to have gained an unfair financial advantage by investing in such schemes can be forced to pay disputed tax ‘up front’ (before their case reaches a tribunal). … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: News, Tax issues | Leave a comment:

‘Big data’ a big opportunity for contractors

The rise of ‘big data’ is, according to many commentators, one of the most significant business trends of 2014.

Webopedia describes big data as “a massive volume of structured and unstructured data that is so large that it’s difficult to process using traditional database techniques.”

Wikipedia, meanwhile, defines it as “an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand data management tools or traditional data-processing applications.” … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Contracting news, News | Leave a comment:

More over-55s embracing contracting

The rise of the older contractor has triggered a marked change in working patterns among over-55s, according to a leading staffing firm.

Figures obtained by Exsurgo show that the number of older people operating as Personal Service Companies (PSC) has increased significantly in recent years, especially in areas such as procurement, e-commerce and buying. These individuals are more likely to use existing contacts to find new assignments for their contracting business, rather than relying on traditional recruitment practices. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Contracting news, News | Leave a comment:

Lawyers slam HMRC’s “draconian” power grab

HMRC’s controversial plan to raid the bank accounts of delinquent taxpayers has attracted yet more criticism.

The Law Society yesterday added its voice to the ever-growing list of detractors, claiming the proposals are “regressive”. Spokesman Gary Richards said that the taxman already had sufficient debt recovery powers, and voiced concerns that the plans may fall foul of human rights or data protection legislation.

Outlined in this year’s Budget, the proposals would allow HMRC to seize funds directly from current accounts, joint accounts or ISAs without having to go to court. It is estimated that around 17,000 people a year could be affected. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: News, Team News | Leave a comment: