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.

‘Big data’ a big opportunity for contractors

Posted on by Mike Youds

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

More over-55s embracing contracting

Posted on by Mike Youds

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

Lawyers slam HMRC’s “draconian” power grab

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

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

Contractors: your government needs you

Posted on by Mike Youds

New research has highlighted the extent to which government and the public sector could benefit from contractors’ expertise.

The survey, conducted by jobs board Totaljobs.com and research firm Dods, found that 21% of public sector workers believe IT expertise is in short supply in their organisation or department.

A further 19% identified project management – another specialism for many ClearSky clients and other contractors – as an area of internal weakness. Meanwhile, 43% of senior central government workers think external recruitment should play a bigger role in bolstering talent. Continue reading

Caution urged over new offshore crackdown

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

HMRC has been urged to use “extreme care and proper oversight” when enforcing its new crackdown on offshore tax evasion.

The warning comes as the taxman announced sweeping new measures, including harsher penalties and even prison sentences. If caught out, evaders could be forced to pay back 200% of unpaid tax and may also face an unlimited fine for non-disclosure.

Critics of the proposals voiced concerns that the Revenue’s shift of focus towards those who fail to ‘correctly’ declare offshore income could pose a threat to large numbers of unsuspecting individuals.  This is because it seems to remove the need to prove a deliberate intention to defraud the government. Continue reading

Contractor Clinic: why should I choose a specialist accountant?

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

As a Limited company, it is extremely important to keep on top of your accounting obligations. With so many deadlines to remember and documents to submit, it is little wonder that the majority of contractors seek the help of an accountant.

While all qualified accountants should be able to manage the books of your average Limited company, many contractors still choose to hire a specialist. This is because the knowledge that your accounts are in the hands of an expert can provide an extra layer of security, and allows you to concentrate solely on running your business.

Despite this, the fact that some high street suppliers offer a cheaper service may still prove tempting to many contractors. This is why we have compiled a few key reasons why you should trust a specialist to take care of your accounts. Continue reading

We’re opening our doors to contractors

Posted on by Mike Youds

We’re offering contractors free one-to-one advice, following a successful pilot scheme.

Existing ClearSky clients, individuals thinking of becoming a contractor and contractors thinking of switching accountant can now book an appointment with us on any working day between 8am-8pm.

Previously, the popular ‘meet the accountant’ events were held on the second Thursday of every month. Continue reading

Contracting and self-employment more mainstream than ever

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

Contractors and the self-employed have been handed yet another boost, as new research suggests that working for yourself is becoming even more mainstream.

Hot on the heels of the Recruitment and Employment Federation’s (REC) statement that contracting is no longer classed as a second-class career, think tank IPPR has now revealed that the UK is fast becoming the ‘self-employment capital’ of Western Europe. Its latest study shows that the proportion of British people choosing to work for themselves rose by a whole percentage point over the last year.

IPPR’s figures showed that between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014, the number of self-employed people in the UK increased by 8% – a result only surpassed by a handful of countries in southern and eastern Europe. Some 4.5 million Brits now work for themselves, a rise of 2.5 million in the past 13 years. Continue reading

Contractors ‘vital for delivering complex projects’

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

Contractors and agency staff are vital to ensuring that complex projects are delivered on time and on budget, according to the government.

The comments came amid mounting criticism surrounding Whitehall’s use of consultants, a trend that has been branded “wasteful” by opponents. Figures obtained by BBC2’s Newsnight programme found that £317 million was spent on contractors last year, while a separate study revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) shelled out a further £137 million.

Newsnight’s investigation showed that at least 30 people were on contracts paying between £1,000 and £2,000 per day, while a consultant working for the MOD pocketed up to £3,000. The news provoked outrage among unions and lobby groups, which claimed that taxpayers would be “extremely concerned” about the findings. Continue reading

Contractors urged not to be fooled by HMRC benchmarking letters

Posted on by Mike Youds

They may look innocent enough, but news site Contractor Calculator has warned that HMRC’s controversial benchmarking letters should be approached with caution.

Supposedly designed to help contractors and other businesses ensure that their tax returns are completed more accurately, the documents have been criticised as being a cynical ploy to extract more money from unsuspecting individuals.

HMRC claims the policy stems from research in other countries which suggests that informing businesses how similar firms in their profession are performing can help them get their tax returns in order. The Revenue has already monitored specific sectors and calculated their average profit margins. Continue reading