The hot topic of this month is the impending EU referendum, and with both sides presenting their arguments in the hope of winning over voters, financial experts are making their predictions as to what could happen in the event of a ‘Brexit’. However, even if the status quo remains, the month leading up to the vote are wreathed in uncertainty, meaning that businesses are trying to avoid unnecessary expenditure until they know the outcome, which could be good news for the flexible workforce and those who are able to offer their expertise for the short term.

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Contractors optimistic in run-up to referendum

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation have released the figures from their monthly Job Outlook survey, and the timing means that the results reflect the feelings of recruiters who are preparing themselves for the results of the EU referendum. Despite significant uncertainty over the future of the UK, whether or not we remain in Europe, the majority of contractors are confident about their prospects with 90 per cent believing that hiring confidence will improve or at least remain the same over the coming months. This may well be as a result of the belief that opportunities for contractors are on the increase as businesses are keen to get ahead of the game and bring in contractors who will help them to innovate and improve their services.

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Travel and subsistence rules change takes effect

Contractors and Personal Service Companies have been campaigning over recent months to try and persuade the government to change their mind about the planned changes to the way contractors can claim travel and subsistence expenses against tax. However, their please fell on deaf ears, and today was the day that the new rules came into effect, meaning that contractors are no long able to claim tax relief on the costs of travelling from home in an attempt, on the government’s part, to level the playing field between those who are employed and those who work for themselves.

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SDC guidelines updated

In the wake of the changes to the way contractors claim expenses, specifically the fact that they are no longer able to claim tax relief on travel and subsistence expenses, HM Revenue and Customs have released new guidance on the matter of Supervision, Direction and Control. These are the most controversial aspects of ascertaining whether or not someone falls inside or outside IR35, and with no legal test for SDC, there is some confusion over what evidence will be needed in order to demonstrate someone’s status either way.

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Contractors still in demand

This month’s Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has revealed that IT contractors are still in demand, despite their having been a minor drop in the number of companies who are actively recruiting IT contractors. However, the overall demand for independent professionals is increasing, and the fact that the skills gap is still making it difficult for businesses to find skilled and experienced staff to fill their vacancies suggests that this trend is likely to continue.

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