A look back at 2020 in contractor recruitment
It’s safe to say that this 2020 round-up is a little more dramatic than our usual annual reflections! 2020 was the year that brought us loo-roll shortages, an end to the Trump presidency, and the world’s most talked-about trip to Durham. But what impact did all of this have on contractor recruitment? In this blog we look back on the things that really mattered to contractors this year. So grab a cup of tea, and one of those leftover mince pies, and have a browse through Kingsbridge’s round up of this eventful year.
Contracting in the time of coronavirus
COVID-19, coronavirus, the ‘rona, whatever you choose to call it – it was the biggest news story of the year, and the biggest disruption to normal life that most of us have ever experienced. It affected everyone, and contractors were no exception. Contracts cancelled or terminated overnight, sites shut down, and a huge shift to home-working were just some of the changes we experienced at a rapid pace. Help was eventually made available for the UK’s five million self-employed workers, but it didn’t cover everyone. The newly self-employed, those mixing PAYE working with self-employment, and those with a trading profit of more than £50,000 were just some of the groups who missed out on government support. Meanwhile, recruiters were left to deal with the fallout of an economy upturned, pairing up contractors left cut adrift by their usual clients with new opportunities in healthcare supply, remote working infrastructure and risk assessment. We’re hopeful that Christmas shindigs won’t have left us at risk of another lockdown in January, but just in case, here is a link back to our guide for how recruiters can prepare for another shutdown.
IR35 is coming
Rewind to this time last year, we were all blissfully unaware of what was headed our way, and our biggest headache was the IR35 reforms that were due to come into force in April 2020. Even as late as March 2020, the Spring Budget presented by the Chancellor reiterated the Government’s intention to go ahead with the off-payroll reforms. Not even a week later, there was a complete U-turn as the inevitability of a nationwide lockdown grew, and the reforms were postponed until April 2021. At present, the 6th April 2021 is still the slated date for the introduction of private sector IR35. As this blog post reports, the government has indicated that the initial 12 months will be a “soft landing” period. This means that for businesses who make an incorrect status determination, there will be no fines or penalties in this introductory period, as long as they can show they took steps to comply with the new legislation. However, the tax liabilities will still apply.
Obviously, never say never, but with Rishi Sunak looking to recoup some of the vast losses to public coffers that the COVID crisis has caused, it looks unlikely that IR35 will be delayed again. Our advice is to get ready, and get ready fast. Recruiters can prepare for their new responsibilities under the scheme and help to support their end clients and contractors with the Kingsbridge Status Tool. The only hybrid IR35 solution on the market, the Kingsbridge Status Tool has been developed by Kingsbridge’s Head of Tax Andy Vessey, who has personally defended over 500 IR35 cases. It combines a simple questionnaire with expert IR35 consultancy so recruiters can make evidenced assessments of the likely status of a contract arrangement. This will help everyone in the contractor supply chain feel confident about where the working relationship sits in relation to IR35, reassuring end clients and giving contractors the ammunition to avoid blanket determinations.
In more positive news, the energy sector is currently booming, and recruiters should be reaping the benefits of this. While the initial nationwide lockdown saw oil and gas prices drop to record lows as industry and commerce shut down, the renewables sector has seen massive growth and demand, which only looks set to accelerate as we head into the new year. The Prime Minister has set an unexpectedly challenging target for reducing carbon emissions by 68% by 2030, meaning the UK will need to reduce its emissions faster than any other major economy. With an ambitious “green industrial revolution” at the heart of the UK government’s plans for regenerating the country’s ailing economy, contractors with specialist skills in green tech and renewable energy are sure to be much in demand.
We at Kingsbridge would like to wish all our contractor recruiters a very happy new year, and we hope that 2021 is a prosperous and productive time for all. Don’t forget that all our expert support with IR35 is available to recruiters, as well as contractors and end clients. That’s one less thing for you to worry about in 2021!
For more information on how Kingsbridge can assist your business in preparing for off-payroll 2021, you can book a free demo on our website so we can show you how it all works, or give the team a call on 01242 808 740.