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.

Is poor IR35 advice costing you money?

Ask any contractor which piece of legislation causes them the most headaches and they will nearly all give the same response – IR35. The controversial law has been labelled a thorn in the side of many freelancers, due to its complex nature.

To combat this, many contractors turn to accountants for advice. However, a new study by news site ContractorCalculator finds that a large number of freelancers are paying more tax than they need to, due to the incorrect information provided by so-called ‘experts.’

More than half (56%) of contractors surveyed falsely believed that receiving a salary of £10,000 or more would automatically protect them from IR35, while just 9% were aware that low wages and high dividend was the most tax-efficient course of action to take. This comes despite 92% of respondents claiming they were at least fairly familiar with the regulations. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Blog | Leave a comment:

Are HMRC cuts behind the rise in tax evasion?

Deep cuts to HMRC’s workforce could explain a worrying rise in tax evasion, according to a new report.

Figures released by the Public & Commercial Services (PCS) union show that the Revenue’s staff numbers have shrunk by around 33% over the past nine years. The number of employees working for the taxman dropped to 62,000 this year, down from 92,000 in 2005.

More cuts are expected, with the service set to shed another 10,000 jobs by 2016. This follows June’s announcement that 23 offices will close and last year’s loss of 281 walk-in enquiry centres. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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

Devo Max for Scotland ‘could harm self-employed’

Devolving too many tax powers from Westminster to Holyrood could have a negative impact on Scotland’s independent professionals, a Big Four accountancy firm has warned.

The debate surrounding so-called Devo Max ignited as soon as it became clear on Friday morning that Scottish voters had rejected independence.

The Scottish Parliament can already alter the amount of income tax people pay by up to 3p in the pound, increasing to 10p in April 2016. Beyond that, there is no agreement between the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour on what additional tax-raising powers should be devolved. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: Blog | Leave a comment:

IR35 awareness: “our cupboards are bare”, claims HMRC

The taxman’s attempts to boost awareness of IR35 are being undermined by budget restrictions, according to a group of experts taxed with reviewing the controversial tax legislation.

IR35 Forum project leaders Sarah Radford and Kate Cottrell made the admission during the body’s recent meeting. It was also revealed that many smaller high street accountancy firms are still failing to completely grasp the controversial legislation. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

Posted under: IR35 & legislation | Leave a comment:

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: