As our sector gets to grips with public sector IR35 reform and anticipates the somewhat inevitable confirmation of private sector changes, you could forgive the UK’s 2million contractors for any pessimism they might voice surrounding their futures.
Recent and potentially incoming IR35 changes has led to cries from leading industry voices that this way of working is now under threat, endangered by a Government intent on continuing their controversial clampdown on self-employed tax avoidance.
While the Government must rethink their position on freelancers and contractors, and implement policies to help contractors thrive, to suggest that this way of working is on the cusp of collapse is short-sighted and speculative at best.
IR35 compliance has indeed changed, and is widely expected to undergo further amendments in due course. But freelancing and contracting in the UK is far from doomed – emphasised by the 71% of independent workers who indicated in recent Qdos Contractor research that they are either confident or balanced about their business prospects over the next 12 months.
That more 7 in 10 contractors feel this way speaks volumes of the independent workforce’s resilience in testing times. What’s more, not only are the majority of contractors feeling satisfied or positive about their business, 45% are particularly confident of striking a better worklife balance, while 35% are expect an increase in demand for their services. This kind of positivity might be enough to start putting to bed rumours that IR35 reform will be the beginning of the end for this way of working.
If buoyant stable, verging on positive business confidence isn’t enough, the fact that recent and potential IR35 reform can be managed might be. Contrary to ongoing media speculation, changes can in fact be handled, as proved by our tried and trusted public sector IR35 solution which, after several thousand detailed and expert assessments has recorded a pass-rate of 89% since April, the month in which reform was introduced. Our tool has purposely been built to handle expected similar changes to private sector IR35.
Through no fault of their own, independent workers have grown familiar with uncertainty recently, which is why 29% are understandably concerned about what’s in store over the course of the next year.
However, contrary to ongoing media reports, recent changes to public sector IR35 legislation is the number one concern for only 10% of contractors, suggesting that the dust has somewhat settled on reform to the off-payroll working rules, and the effective management of the reform is perhaps beginning to trickle through.