Public bodies urged to use IT freelancers

When is the best time to set up an IT contracting business? This is an almost impossible question to answer, as it largely depends on your individual circumstances. But if you’ve assessed your current situation and decided that you’re ready to become a contractor, then as far as the industry is concerned, 2018 could prove to be a stellar year.

 

Research from TechMarketView, discussed in a Contractor UK article, has urged the public sector to make more use of freelance consultants this year, in a bid to address the persisting digital skills gap. The market analysis firm said that public organisations will have to think of ‘more creative ways’ to gain the skills they need, ‘including the use of public freelance marketplaces.’

 

TechMarketView acknowledged that taxpayer-funded bodies may find it difficult to conduct business efficiently ‘without looking beyond their own four walls.’ This news comes after an IR35 update last year and its ‘off-payroll rules,’ which many believe has dissuaded freelancers from providing their services to the sector.

 

‘Fled in droves’

Mike Gibson, Managing Director at Ethical Consulting, who has been petitioning against IR35, argued the above point to the government’s business department, after it published a strategy on IT provision to its staff, ‘and the people and businesses we serve.’ This strategy is, in Gibson’s words, “[beautifully] written and composed, professionally created and ultimately pointless.

Delivery will be dependent on a veritable army of flexible and temporary resource – who have fled the UK [public sector] in their droves as a result of IR35 changes in April 2017.”

 

Options available

Gibson said that for the government department to achieve its aim – which is, to ‘make the best use of digital, data and technology (DDat) in our everyday work’ – then either one of two things need to happen:

The first option is for the body to pay 22% more to PSC contractors who possess the necessary skills, to counteract the hike in tax the IR35 reforms result in. Alternatively, it must accept that DDat-related work will be carried out by ‘inside IR35’ consultants willing to take a 22% cut to their wages. But, referring to the latter, Gibson said, “I don’t see the top-drawer [DDaT] people doing that when they don’t need to.”

It will be interesting to see how the next few months pan out and if any proactive steps are taken by the sector to address the continuing IT skills shortage. In the meantime, if you’re thinking of contracting and want to know how IR35 legislation affects you, contact the experts at Intouch Accounting now…

 

Sources:

TechMarketView – Public Sector Predictions 2018 – New Research

ContractorUK – Get IT Freelancers in for 2018, public bodies told

GOV.UK – BEIS digital data and technology (DDat) strategy

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contractor essentials: 10 tips to promoting brand You

Promoting brand You

Whether you’re just starting out in contracting or have been doing it a while, when you run your own Limited Company you’re responsible for securing your next contract. Self-promotion isn’t a comfortable thing for many people. For others, it’s time consuming or just a bit of a pain! Either way, unless your skills are so niche and in demand that you are highly sought after, it’s something you’re going having to have to do so you can avoid unplanned time between contracts as much as possible.

Check out these 10 tips to see what you could be doing better…or get started on today!

 

1. Networking tools

Business contacts are an essential part of you securing new business. Rather than viewing people as competitors see them as a potential support network. Remember if you create a good relationship with them, they may just turn out to be a referral source for new work and contracts. They may be overloaded and see you as an ally. View everyone as a potential resource and tap in.

 

2. Networking events and business cards

Sometimes the thought of networking events can be a drag, but really they are an opportunity to make new contacts, find support and a source of referral work. Check out what networking events are happening in your area as well as through any professional bodies you belong to. It may seem daunting but remember everyone is in the same boat and looking to connect. A friendly face really goes a long way, and what’s more, people will remember you if you give them a warm reception. Your business cards are a useful tool at networking events to ensure that if people remember your face, they know immediately how to get in touch, especially if you then connect online…

 

3. Networking online

LinkedIn is the main online networking portal for businesses. As a contractor it really is worth joining. Ideally dedicate some time every day to checking your account and news feed. Take time to build a list of relevant and engaged contacts. Although it may take a little while, your name and profile will become visible to new people, and the truth is you never know, your skills and persona could provide the solution to a specific problem they are looking to solve. You can also use it as a hub to discuss issues with other contractors in the same line of business as you.

 

4. Technology tools

Going it alone means being organised! Keeping track of your invoices and communications is really important for maintaining a professional image – maximise your use of business software and apps designed to help you. Make it a priority to know what is available for business.

 

5. Cloud storage

Cloud storage systems like DropBox and Google Docs allow you to store, share, access and edit your documents easily whilst you are out and about. This is essential if you’re travelling, however, they also give you peace of mind as a business filing backup option for important documents and client work. Check out our blog for more tips and apps for working on the move.

 

6. Time tracking and invoicing

Most contractors and freelancers charge an hourly or daily rate. It is important for you to accurately track your time to produce a relevant invoice for your client giving evidence of the time you have spent on a project. Time tracking software and apps such as Toggl allow you to easily track your day – actually down to the second. This allows you to save essential time on unnecessary paperwork and helps you to maintain a professional image.

 

7. Productivity

Gone are the days of guesswork, with a wide range of software and apps for business focused on productivity, your smartphone’s app store is a gold mine. It may well hold the key to the project management problem that you have been searching for. Take the time to ask around or play with your phone apps in your downtime.

 

8. Professional tools ­ industry bodies and resources

If you do want to take a more hands on approach, there are numerous professional resources available for contractors and freelancers, providing information on everything from setting up your business, to tax and IR35 legislation. A specialist contractor accountant can take care of all of this for you.

 

9. Self-motivation

In order to be a successful contractor you do need to have a healthy internal resource of self-motivation. Make sure you are up to date with the latest trends in your sector. If you are bang on trend and have the right qualifications, you can charge more and also win more contracts. The HMRC website also provides a useful no frills resource, filled with essential information on legislation surrounding the various trading models common amongst contractors and freelancers. You can find out information on how to set up a Limited Company and more. At Intouch we specialise in helping contractors at every stage of their career and can help you from the moment you even start thinking about moving into contracting.

 

10. Your trusted accountant

They are likely to be your main professional adviser so keep in contact with them to ensure you’re getting the most out of contracting. Contact Intouch Accounting today to chat through your circumstances and discuss joining us.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.