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FCSA Members Newsletter
Julia Kermode - FCSA


I have now completed the grand milestone of two weeks in the post as your CEO, having clearly joined the FCSA at a time when the wider economy and the sector continue to face substantial change.

We must take heed of the warnings that COVID-19 may return in greater numbers in the months ahead and these cycles, and the psychological effects it has had on the working population, suggests working life may never return to the old normal.

The Wellbeing Lab estimates that up to 80% of the workforce do not want to return to their old working arrangements. Employers who carry the fixed-costs of office premises, or who have not yet invested in remote technology may be tempted to encourage their workforce back to the old ways to justify their current infrastructure. This is a guaranteed way to disengage talented people and the consequence over the medium term will become obvious. As a result, we should begin to look in detail at how we can all become more corporately agile. This is never more relevant as we see change being forced upon us and our workforces.

The furlough scheme will change again at the end of this month, and, like any sector, it will have a profound effect on each of your businesses, your employees, and of course, the wider economy is already changing dramatically.

But whilst there is a seismic shift in the economy, there is an opportunity for those companies that are agile. Unfortunately, some of the most agile are opportunistic companies that have no interest in compliance or indeed will simply break the law to advantage themselves.

The changes in the wider economy, possible trading sanctions with China, uncertainty over Brexit implications, off-payroll reforms, and umbrella regulation on the horizon mean there may be a substantial shift in how we, as a sector, must operate.

One of the consequences of this environment is that the number of unscrupulous players in our sector may increase and they may see FCSA Accreditation as a convenient commercial badge. As a result, and in preparation for such, the FCSA Board is meeting on the 6th of August to look carefully at the entry standards for FCSA membership.

At some point in the near future, we must ensure that the current standards of membership are as robust as they can be and that will, of course, entail meaningful discussions with the membership and assessor partners to ensure we continue to be seen as the leaders in terms of standards and compliance. As someone who has been involved in developing accreditation standards in other sectors, I am extremely impressed by the standard and processes of the FCSA review programme. As well as assuring the sector of supply chain compliance and that our members operate to the highest standards, it is also one of the best health check tools I have ever seen and with the scrutiny and support of highly respected assessors, this can only benefit member companies. It keeps you legal, compliant, and differentiates you in the marketplace.

I am looking at ways in which we can capture the valuable data and themes from these reviews to produce regular best-practice feedback modules for all members, and to demonstrate that our members are embracing continuous improvement.  

I have already had some very useful conversations with the Labour Market Enforcement Directorate, which is the key body in terms of umbrella regulation, and you will be aware that primary legislation and first readings for any umbrella regulation have been delayed due to the pandemic. They are, however, keen to engage with the FCSA as the recommendations begin to emerge. As a result, I have been invited to attend their quarterly meetings and I will keep you posted as we progress. I have also had preliminary meetings with HMRC regarding their proposed guidance on the off-payroll reforms and again, as we progress these discussions I will keep you informed.

On the 22nd of July, the Finance Bill received Royal Assent and so IR35/off-payroll is now certain to come into being in April 2021. Whilst FCSA members understand the changes and obligations that will ensue, it is not necessarily the case in our supply chains. I am looking carefully at how the supply chain, namely recruiters and end-hirers, can be educated by the FCSA and stress the importance of compliant supply chains.

Like all legislative changes, case precedent tends to follow rather than inform and so setting the bar high in terms of FCSA code amendments will only save us all time and money in the long term whilst protecting the freelancer population.

In this newsletter you will find the usual, and extremely valuable, Brabners legal update; and I’m delighted to welcome a relatively new FCSA Business Partner – SmartPension – who will be making their first contribution to the FCSA newsletter.

Best wishes

Phil Pluck, FCSA Chief Executive


Latest self-employed figures in Q2 fall by 178,000

The latest ONS labour market statistics continue to demonstrate wide fluctuations in self-employed numbers with a drop of 178,000 compared to the last quarter, and by 105,000 compared to the same period last year. Read the full report here >

REC reports increase in hiring confidence in UK market

With retail sales figures showing a greater than expected increase, international trading markets having now recovered much of their pandemic losses, the REC recently reported a return in confidence in the UK’s hiring market. Read the full report here >


FCSA Workforce Barometer

In our July edition of the FCSA’s Workforce Barometer, we continue to provide useful data and industry insights into market conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. It includes the latest data on the impact that the lockdown has had on the UK economy, notably in respect of employment and the temporary workforce sector, insights into those companies planning to release workers, and a full-year 2019 retrospective on the occupational and geographical profile of self-employment.

Download a copy here >


HMRC and tax compliance

The latest release from National Audit Office shows greater success in increasing tax compliance. Read the latest report here>


HMRC issues guidance on how to recognise disguised remuneration tax avoidance schemes

HMRC has recently published guidance on how to recognise disguised remuneration tax avoidance schemes. A charge on disguised remuneration loans, known as the loan charge, was introduced to tackle the use of disguised remuneration schemes and came into effect on 5 April 2019. The charge applies to loans made since 9 December 2010 if they were still outstanding on 5 April 2019. Those scheme users who provided all the information to HMRC by 5 April 2019, can still settle their tax affairs under the November 2017 terms. Those who did not settle or do not reach a settlement agreement with HMRC within agreed timeframes, will have to report and pay the loan charge. You can read the full guidance here>

As well as updating their latest policy guidance the HMRC has also put out a call for evidence which of course the FCSA will be responding to in due course.

For more information click here >


COVID-19 Update: Coronavirus support resources for employers and employees

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has recently added a resource section to its website to provide a variety of information to help both employers and employees manage through the coronavirus crisis. These resources have been compiled by public bodies, organisations and charities outside of the Government. View available resources here >

In addition, on the 23rd of July, the Government updated its “Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)” for employers to help them make informed decisions about how to make the workplace COVID-safe for employees returning to work from 1st of August 2020 onwards. Read the latest guidance here >

Brabners Legal Update

Do the Agency Worker Regulations apply to long-term assignments?

In the recent case of Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd v Kocur and others, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that workers who were supplied by Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd ("Angard") to Royal Mail on a long-term basis were still supplied “temporarily”, meaning they fit the definition of agency workers and were therefore entitled to the rights under the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 ("AWR 2010").

The case is important as it adds clarity to when a worker will be considered an ‘agency worker’.

Read on to find out more >

Market Analysis

27% of UK workers – including a significant proportion of contractors – are still working exclusively from home

Prior to the pandemic, just 5% of UK workers predominantly operated from home. As of 8-12 July, more than a quarter (27%) of the UK workforce was still working exclusively from home following the UK lockdown.

Amongst the top 10 occupations determined by the Office for National Statistics as having the greatest potential for workers to be exclusively working from home – totaling 1.6m individuals - all are skills areas in which the Personal Sservice Company population is highly active. Across these occupations, there were at least 181k self-employed workers engaged within them in Q2 2018 (the latest available data) – potentially up to a quarter of the PSC population now subject to a more stringent IR35 review. 

Interestingly, should the prevalence of homeworking continue, there is every potential of an increase in ‘outside IR35’ determinations where the onsite presence requirement has been proven to be non-essential – and outputs, rather than time worked, increases in importance.

Industry Insights

The effects of COVID-19 on the contractor market and what Smart Pension Is doing to help

Head of Payroll at Smart Pension, Ceri Thomas discusses the challenges employers and employees are currently experiencing with when making decisions about pension contributions, and explains how Smart Pension has been listening to their clients and responding in an agile and supportive manner.

Learn more about how Smart Pension has been supporting umbrella companies and individual contractors during these unprecedented times.

Read Now >

New Member Announcements

We’re pleased to announce the following companies have achieved FCSA Accreditation:

Dasa Umbrella – Umbrella Employment & CIS/Self-Employed Payroll Services

Oasis Group (Oasis Umbrella & Oasis Accountants) – Umbrella Employment & Contractor Accountancy Services

No Worries Group - Umbrella Employment & Contractor Accountancy Services

For more information about our newest members and details of their services, please visit our Directory of Members >


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