New figures have been released about the number of contractors currently in work, and unfortunately they don’t make for particularly happy reading.

But we are ever the optimists here at Larsen Howie, and think that could be down to a knee-jerk reaction from some employers ahead of the 2017 Budget.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has revealed that overall contractor vacancy numbers did dip by 10% in October 2017.


Companies may have been reluctant to offer contractor roles given the uncertainty about what Phillip Hammond was going to reveal in his 2017 Budget announcement.

But, as posted on Larsen Howie, the chancellor did not extend the off-payroll reforms seen in the public sector into the private sector as many had feared and suggested he might.

So, while vacancy numbers did decrease across all of APSCo’s key sectors, this could well have been down to a certain sense of trepidation around contractor appointments and the logistics and practicality of taking them on before a potentially seismic shift.

No immediate change

Thankfully, Hammond saw sense and heeded the warning of many industry bodies. While considerations and consultations around how IR35 works in the private sector will take place, nothing has changed immediately following the budget announcement.

That could mean that companies are now again more willing to hand out contracts to contractors as they have been previously, rather than taking the cautious approach.

In fact, much of the negative statistics are down to a bad time in the IT industry, with a 30% drop in the number of IT assignments out there in October 2017. This sector is likely to bounce back however.

Hammond’s announcement was seen as a fairly positive one by the contracting community at large, and hopefully that positivity will be seen in improved statistics as 2017 draws to a close.