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.

ClearSky climbs accountancy industry rankings

Posted on by Mike Youds

ClearSky has climbed the accountancy industry’s definitive league table after recording a virtually unmatched increase in earnings.

We achieved year-on-year revenue growth of 43%, posting fee income of £6.71m for 2013/14. The leap in turnover saw us climb 14 places in Accountancy Age magazine’s latest Top50+50 survey – from 87 to 73.

Only two practices featured in the annual list of the UK’s 100 biggest accountancy firms posted a higher rate of fee-income growth. Continue reading

IR35: considerations for recruitment firms

Posted on by Mike Youds

More than 14 years after it was made law, IR35 is still a source of confusion and anxiety for many Limited company contractors.

Indeed, the impact of the controversial tax legislation on Britain’s contracting and freelancing community dominated a recent House of Lords debate on Personal Service Companies (PSCs).

Less widely discussed are the key IR35 considerations for recruitment agencies that help contractors secure assignments. Continue reading

Taxman in hot water over Aspire IT contract

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

No sooner has one public sector body been criticised for its bungled IT projects, than another follows close behind. This time, it is HMRC that is in the firing line over its flagship Aspire contract.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the project will end up costing the taxpayer an estimated £10.4 billion by its completion date of 2017, a full £6.3 billion more than the previous calculation made in 2004. The investigation claimed the Revenue “lacked commercial rigour” and accused the taxman of paying over the odds for work it did not initially envision.

The spending watchdog argued that HMRC had been put under sustained pressure to find short-term cost savings, which caused it to “trade away its negotiating power.” In addition, it failed to market-test significant elements of the contract and paid “above market prices” for any additions it made to the scheme. Continue reading

Contractors in demand as skills shortage bites harder

Posted on by Mike Youds

Demand for contractors is still going strong, as firms try to cope with the ongoing shortage of skilled workers.

The latest REC JobsOutlook survey found that 47% of employers planned to increase their intake of agency staff and contractors in the next quarter. A further 42% indicated they would hire more freelancers over the coming 4 to 12 months.

Almost two thirds of employers across all sectors stated they use contractors as a way to obtain “short-term access to key strategic skills.” Some 64% of recruiters hired freelancers to cover staff holidays, while 49% said they took on agency workers as a response to growth. An additional 30% claimed that they found it a useful way to reduce running costs. Continue reading

NHS row sparks IR35 concerns amongst contractors

Posted on by Mike Youds

Fresh controversy over the use of ‘off-payroll’ arrangements within the NHS has led to a flurry of requests for IR35 reviews from public-sector contractors here at ClearSky.

An investigation by Monitor, the body that regulates health services in England, has found that 86 executives working at NHS foundation trusts could face an investigation over their use of Personal Service Companies (PSCs).

The officials in question reportedly failed to give the necessary assurances that they were paying the correct rates of employment tax. Continue reading

Contractors’ company details to soon be made available for free

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

Contractors are being advised that their company records will soon be made public for free.

The changes are due to come into force between April and June next year, and are part of an agreement by G8 leaders to help fight tax evasion. The department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) claimed that the move would make the UK the first country in the world to have an open register of business information.

Accessing company data – including up-to-date accounts – currently costs £1 for each file downloaded from Companies House. Although this charge will be wiped out when the new rules come into force, there will still be a fee for requests made over the phone. Continue reading

Contracting ‘no longer a minority sport’

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

Contractors have finally dispelled the myth that they are in a second-class or dead-end career, a new study has found.

Research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) shows that almost one fifth of UK workers have been contractors or freelancers. A further two fifths would be open to giving it a go.

The survey also found that 40% of people earning over £30,000 have worked previously on temporary assignments. Meanwhile, 22% of those earning over £50,000 have been agency workers in the past. Continue reading

How to stay productive during your contractor assignment

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

It is well-documented that contractors enjoy significantly more freedom than those in traditional employment. However, this can sometimes translate into a lack of concentration during an assignment.

Should this continue for a prolonged period of time, deadlines may be missed, resulting in serious damage to your reputation. To help, we have produced this handy guide to keep contractors focused on the task in hand. Continue reading

Top 5 public sector IT disasters

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

Tales of public sector IT debacles seem to be becoming ever-more frequent. Such stories never fail to provoke an outcry, mainly due to the vast sums of taxpayer money that go down the drain with each passing fiasco.

Inevitably, the knives come out and those in the firing line start looking for scapegoats to vilify. Yet time and again, the same excuses are given. This perhaps suggests that, despite assurances to the contrary, lessons are not being learned.

We’ve compiled a list of five of the most prolific IT disasters, outlining what happened and why. These projects have cost the taxpayer an eye-watering £16.5 billion to implement, with several failing to even get off the ground. Continue reading

Three mistakes to avoid during your contracting interview

Posted on by Tim Moore Beecroft

As a contractor, you will have to attend a lot of interviews to secure new assignments. It is therefore essential that you know exactly how to conduct yourself, while avoiding any potential pitfalls that could seriously damage your chances of being hired.

We have created this useful guide which outlines three common interview mistakes and offers advice on how to deal with them. Following this information will help you sail through your meeting, giving you the best chance of beating the competition. Continue reading