Contractor confidence hits record high

Contractor confidence hits record high

A new study suggests that confidence among UK contractors and freelancers has bounced back to a record high following a temporary period of gloominess.

With Brexit and recent changes to IR35, contractors have faced a number of challenges and uncertainties in recent years, yet the latest figures from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) reveal that freelancers are resilient and currently eyeing-up a bright future regardless of whatever further challenges might be ahead.

According to the data, contractor confidence has risen from a reading of just 5.3 last year to hit a very optimistic-looking 14.3.

Commentators have been keen to point out that, although ‘small-sounding’ in terms of numbers, this reading represents the highest confidence score among contractors and freelancers since the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015 and before the Brexit vote.

Suneeta Johal, IPSE’s Head of Research, said that “resilience and determination” in the face of uncertain times were “key factors” behind the impressive annual growth in contractor confidence.

“Against all odds, contractors now have the highest confidence outlook for their business level since before the EU referendum… [despite] the negative forces ranged against the self-employed right now.”

Commentators have said that the figures should not be taken lightly, as previous studies have suggested that freelancers are likely to see the ‘cost of contracting’ increase by around 13.7 per cent in coming months due to IR35 changes amongst other issues.

At times such as these, it is perhaps more important than ever for contractors to seek specialist tax planning advice to ensure they are financially fighting fit.

And finally…

Firefighters in North London have suffered some bizarre verbal abuse in recent days at the hands of a potty-mouthed parrot.

The Fire Rescue Service was called to Cuckoo Hall Lane in Edmonton after a resident’s macaw parrot escaped and took up long-term residence on a neighbour’s roof.

According to reports, Jessie the parrot hung around on the roof for three whole days – with RSPCA representatives (and the parrot’s doting owner) unsuccessful in their efforts to coax the creature down without the help of the emergency services.

When the Fire Rescue Service arrived, the plot thickened, after the bird begun chirping obscenities at its intended saviours – some of which were even in Turkish and Greek.

“Jessie had been on the same roof for three days and there were concerns that she may be injured, which is why she hadn’t come down,” watch manager Chris Swallow said.

“We were told that to bond with the parrot, you have to tell her ‘I love you’, which is exactly what the crew manager did.

“While Jessie responded ‘I love you’ back, we soon discovered that she had a bit of a foul mouth and kept swearing, much to our amusement!”

Firefighters’ efforts to tell Jessie to “come” in English, Turkish and Greek proved unsuccessful for a long while until, eventually, the bird decided to fly back down to its owner.

Concerns that Rent a Room tax relief changes could cause “unnecessary complexity”

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has called on the Government to rethink its proposals to reform Rent a Room tax relief, amid concerns that the changes could result in “unnecessary complexity.”

In recent days, the Government has unveiled plans to introduce a so-called ‘shared occupancy test’, which would see that anyone who rents out a room in their home is only able to claim the relief if they are ‘present’ at the time the room is being rented.

In its policy paper, the Government said: “Those taxpayers that do not satisfy this test will no longer be eligible to claim Rent a Room relief.”

Under the existing rules, landlords or anyone else renting out a room in their main residential property are able to earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free. Furthermore, many of those who enjoy this relief rent out their rooms while they are away.

At current, the new rules are due to be introduced in April 2019. However, at this stage, it remains unclear whether or not HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will require landlords to ‘prove’ their shared occupancy in order to claim Rent a Room relief.

The AAT has voiced concerns that either way, the proposed changes would prove problematic.

On one hand, it says that if a burden of proof was introduced, this would force landlords to keep “laborious” records of which dates they were – and were not – at home each year.

On the other hand, if the Revenue decides not to introduce a burden of proof, this could inadvertently encourage “widespread abuse” of the system.

“A shared occupancy test is a headache being created for what the Treasury’s own analysis states will be a ‘negligible’ impact on tax receipts,” an AAT spokesperson said.

“The best solution for landlords, tenants, policymakers and the economy would be to drop these plans and allow Rent a Room relief to continue as it has for over 25 years as a simple to administer, easy to understand tax relief that’s available to all.”

It also warned that the proposals could force those taxpayers who let out rooms whilst they are away to have to rely on the much lower £1,000 property allowance instead of Rent a Room relief in the near future.

Send us your Self-Assessment Tax Return Questionnaire by 30 September and benefit from the full discount.


If you would like Cogent to prepare and file your 2017/18 tax return and you have not yet sent us your completed Self-Assessment Tax Return Questionnaire, you will need to do so by 30 September 2018 to benefit fully from our discounted fee.

If you have a second shareholder, they may also need to file a tax return, even if they haven’t previously; this is due to the changes to dividend tax from April 2016 which affect many dividends over £5,000.

The standard charge including VAT for a basic tax return is £240. Questionnaires received by 30th September 2018 will receive the full discount on a basic tax return, charged at £85. If your questionnaire is received between 1 October and 31 December 2018, the fee will be discounted to £120; any returns received after 31 December 2018 will be charged at the full rate of £240.

Please note, more complicated tax returns where additional work or supplements are required, will be subject to additional charges.

Our Cogent deadlines have been set so that we can complete your return in time to meet the HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) online filing deadline of 31 January 2019. Penalties for late filing of tax returns can be as much as £1,600, even when there is no tax due, so please ensure your tax return is filed on time, whether you ask Cogent to prepare it for you, or you have made other arrangements

You can request a questionnaire for 2016/17 by emailing

Please complete the questionnaire and return it together with any attachments to

You are required to file a tax return if:-

  • You have been asked to file one by HMRC
  • You have a tax liability for the year (e.g. additional and higher rate tax, or if you have any income which has not been taxed at source)
  • You have a new source of income that needs to be declared