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What has 2018 in store for contractors?

What has 2018 in store for contractors?

You may have seen our article last week on the highlights of 2017 in the contracting world. Now, having had our little trip down memory lane, we thought we’d have a look at what’s on the horizon, and muse what has 2018 in store for contractors?

One of the biggest stories of 2017 was the IR35 reforms which rocked the public sector. Might similar reforms come to the private sector in 2018? It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but its lack of inclusion in the recent budget announcement makes it seem like it’s not at the immediate forefront for HMRC at present, especially following last Friday's announcement that it won't happen before April 2018, which makes April 2019 look like the most likely date for any roll out.

2018

However, that could certainly change given their is no set time frame. 2018 may be the year that plans to reform taxation for contractors working in the private sector solidifies somewhat.

However, any move or sound made by HMRC will be met with a wave of scrutiny from industry bodies. They would likely cite the disastrous lack of consultation, planning and guidance for business entities who had to deal with the the reforms in the public sector.

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Furthermore, the government did in the recent budget announcement say it ‘will carefully consult on how to tackle non-compliance in the private sector, drawing on the experience of the public sector reforms’. This will come in the form of a report following a full consultation process. The results are likely to be released in 2018. How many lessons they will have learned remains to be seen.

2018 looks likely to be the year that the government’s Making Tax Digital tool could finally be introduced. Any contractor who currently submits their own tax returns will certainly be hoping that the problems will have long gone when they are mandated to use the system. And while Making Tax Digital is set to be introduced in 2018, it’s unlikely businesses will be forced to use it until 2019 at the earliest unless they so wish.

As reported last week, a review from the Department for Work and Pensions into pensions among the self-employed is set to be released before the new year, with a similar report from IPSE due out in 2018. Both will make for interesting reading. Might contractors see legislation starting to form regarding auto-enrolment for their sector in the not too distant future?

Brexit

The results of the ongoing Brexit fiasco (I think it’s fair to call it that now, whichever way you voted) will be closely watched by many, with contractors naturally wondering how they might be affected.

Depending on how exactly the Brexit negotiations unfold, there are pros and cons for contractors. The market uncertainty it has caused has generally been seen as a positive for contractors. Companies are less willing to employ permanent staff, creating opportunities for contractors. If companies choose to pull away from the UK market there’s a distinct chance of fewer contracts on offer. Companies will start to relocate part of their operation, or setting up additional locations, in EU member countries. This has already started to become a reality for some. How exactly this affects the contractor market we are yet to fully see..

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The post Brexit contractor talent drain, both voluntary and involuntary, to countries within the EU who have free movement, has not materialised. This stems from the fact that the government is taking note of the seriousness of the issue is addressing it. It is much to the disdain of various scaremongers but happiness of contractors. Many contractors of course are not UK nationals, and were left wondering what the future holds for them.

On reflection, 2017 was a year that saw a number of challenges thrown at contractors. The result has been a more unified, focused and determined community of workers. We hope that continues into 2018. It is a vital part of the UK workforce is given the respect and treatment it deserves.

If you have any questions on contracting, or are looking to become a contractor in 2018, get in touch with Larsen Howie’s experts today.