22 Nov 2023

APSCo responds to Autumn Statement: IR35 win for the staffing sector

Responding to today’s Autumn Statement, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) comments:

For the professional staffing sector, the news that HMRC is proceeding with the set off proposals to off-payroll rules is welcome. This latest development – outlined in the full details of the Autumn Statement – has followed three years of lobbying by APSCo on this issue which started when we held the co-chair position of the then named IR35 Forum. Although it doesn’t mitigate the dampening impact overall of off-payroll on professional contractors, who should be included in the Chancellor’s broad appreciation of the self-employed, it does reduce the unfairness of the rules on recruiters, who are the deemed employers.

We are also pleased that the Chancellor paid heed to our call to expand Investment Zones and proceed with legislation to deal with tax avoidance promoters in our sector, following our recommendations earlier this year.

Making full expensing permanent should also encourage recruitment firms to invest in growth plans, which will certainly be a boost following an arguably difficult year for them after the highs of 2021 and 2022. 

Any targeted investments in innovation and advanced sectors should boost job creation across technology, engineering, and life sciences which are key sectors for our members. However, there is still a candidate skills deficit and unfortunately continuing to plough on with a singular policy on technical skills, namely apprenticeships, and the dismissal of an opportunity to review business visas, means that our members expect that the much sought-after productivity boost will, as a result, be slower.

We remain firm on our guidance that reforms are needed to improve how apprenticeships are accessed and who they are available to, including expanding the scope to encapsulate the self-employed who the Chancellor identified are a critical part of the UK labour market. These reforms also extend to incorporating flexible modular training in the use of the Apprenticeship Levy, particularly for management training which is a specific area that will hinder productivity levels.