Is recently released data showing a contracting dip due to IR35 reform? We hate to say it, but unfortunately the latest figures from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCO) do not make pretty reading for the contractor community. 

January 2018 saw a decrease of 16% in the number of contractors out on assignment compared to the same time last year, while the number of contract vacancies has also dropped by a sharp 9%.

Rates at which vacancies dropped fluctuated between sectors. Engineering vacancies dropped by only 5% over the year. IT saw an 8% drop and marketing fell by a large 21%.

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Bucking the trend somewhat, the finance sector actually saw a 2% increase in the number of contractor vacancies.

The overall number of contractors out on assignment was most noticeable in the IT sector, where a staggering 38% fewer contractors are now working compared to this time last year.

Rise in permanent employment

This drop in contractors has coincided with a steady growth in the number of workers in permanent positions, reports APSCO.

But is this contracting dip due to IR35 reform? Sadly, this could very likely be true. The statistics are indicative of people looking for more stable employment, especially with HMRC looking to implement IR35 change.

If they do come in before the end of 2018, it'll be interesting to see the same statistics in 2019.

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However, there is still demand for contractors across a range of sectors. Those that are maybe dispirited, don't be if you are looking for a new contract at present. Plenty of companies still boast a strong contractor number, and the type of specialist skills you offer are still going to be in demand, regardless of APSCO’s research.

The full report from APSCO, including statistics and commentary, can be viewed here.