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View Full Version : No longer Ltd->Crystal Umbrella Services Ltd->Aqua Bubble Ltd T/As Crystal Umbrella??



bangface
25th November 2010, 11:32
Whats the story with Crystal Umbrella?

Crystal Umbrella Services Ltd enters administration as group restructures | News | Recruiter (http://www.recruiter.co.uk/crystal-umbrella-services-ltd-enters-administration-as-group-restructures/1007639.article)

stek
17th January 2011, 01:53
I was with them - they fuked me over partly my fault tho - T&C's u have to read in detail, missed a clause, only myself to blame.

Basically I'm 8k out, as it stands - as it's a bad debt now I might be able to mitigate my losses somehow but it's accountant time, too hard for me.

Real mess and as under an LLP you are largely self-employed you're in the liable shit tax wise, as I am now. No Ltd protection, not that there was ever that much under the 'lifting the veil' rule....

Either you can save and save and fight it and worry, or go elsewhere and earn more and just pay it off. As a result I'm off to EU-land, 8k a drop in ocean on this gig but I'd rather pay it off on principal for my own peace of mind, knowing I can return to UK if need be.....

But I don't think I will.

prozak
24th January 2011, 08:55
Hold on!

Umbrella companies are risk free compared to LTD....

Or so they all claim....

Steven@Parasol
24th January 2011, 17:19
Hold on!

Umbrella companies are risk free compared to LTD....

Or so they all claim....

That depends on the umbrellaand what the claims are based on.

A lot of umbrellas that have gone under leaving a mess for contractors had all of the accreditations and badges of honour going. ultimately they counted for nothing and protected no one.

The FCSA is worth looking into as part of their code of conduct is a full independent audit by a big four accountancy firm, the results of which are then presented to HMRC.

LisaContractorUmbrella
25th January 2011, 08:32
That depends on the umbrellaand what the claims are based on.

A lot of umbrellas that have gone under leaving a mess for contractors had all of the accreditations and badges of honour going. ultimately they counted for nothing and protected no one.

The FCSA is worth looking into as part of their code of conduct is a full independent audit by a big four accountancy firm, the results of which are then presented to HMRC.

You do have a bit of a vested interest though don't you Steve? Not exactly impartial advice :wink

Steven@Parasol
25th January 2011, 17:46
You do have a bit of a vested interest though don't you Steve? Not exactly impartial advice :wink

Nope, not impartial and yes I am bias. It's obvious who I work for!!!:happy

LisaContractorUmbrella
26th January 2011, 12:00
Nope, not impartial and yes I am bias. It's obvious who I work for!!!:happy

That's ok then - as long as you admit it :tongue

Steven@Parasol
26th January 2011, 17:31
That's ok then - as long as you admit it :tongue

I would add one serious point though. Any service provider can join the FSCA subject to them passing KPMG's audit (which includes an onsite visit).

There have been plenty of examples recently of umbrella companies going under despite having all the badges of honour and accreditation going. This is just my personal view but you could argue that the kite marks designed to protect contractors weren't worth the paper they were written on and some service providers were using them simply as marketing tools.

The financial irregularities and bad practice that led them to go under would have been discovered by the audit. I won't names but there have been instances when a service provider has not passed the audit and had not been admitted to the FCSA.

LisaContractorUmbrella
27th January 2011, 08:56
I would add one serious point though. Any service provider can join the FSCA subject to them passing KPMG's audit (which includes an onsite visit).

There have been plenty of examples recently of umbrella companies going under despite having all the badges of honour and accreditation going. This is just my personal view but you could argue that the kite marks designed to protect contractors weren't worth the paper they were written on and some service providers were using them simply as marketing tools.

The financial irregularities and bad practice that led them to go under would have been discovered by the audit. I won't names but there have been instances when a service provider has not passed the audit and had not been admitted to the FCSA.

But that's kind of the point isn't it Steve? A one off audit will not prevent an umbrella company from failing - it will identify non-compliance (although that could be argued as HMR&C opinion is not set in stone), it will, possibly, identify bad business practise but it will not stop bad management financial or otherwise. Also, it will not be made public if companies are not admitted to the FCSA so what use is it to the contractor - they won't know if an application has been made but failed. We have always taken independent advice from specialist accounts and employment lawyers but really the only people who can determine whether or not an umbrella is truly compliant is the HMR&C and, as we all know, they don't 'approve' anyone.

Steven@Parasol
27th January 2011, 16:54
But that's kind of the point isn't it Steve? A one off audit will not prevent an umbrella company from failing - it will identify non-compliance (although that could be argued as HMR&C opinion is not set in stone), it will, possibly, identify bad business practise but it will not stop bad management financial or otherwise. Also, it will not be made public if companies are not admitted to the FCSA so what use is it to the contractor - they won't know if an application has been made but failed. We have always taken independent advice from specialist accounts and employment lawyers but really the only people who can determine whether or not an umbrella is truly compliant is the HMR&C and, as we all know, they don't 'approve' anyone.

The onsite audit is conducted every year and part of the audit is making sure the umbrella company can meet all its obligations to HMRC. Part of the audit also looks at the positive net worth of members and their financial standing. So if the directors are buying yachts with the crown money the audit will uncover it.

FCSA members also have to make their accounts public so that anyone who wants to review them may do so. Again, encouraging more transparency in our industry.


HMRC do not approve anything but they have been involved in drawing up the audit process alongside one of the 'big four' accountancy practices and the results are presented to them every year as well. It is the only standard that has the backing of both REC and APSCo (as quoted below).

Here are the quotes I'm talking about:

In response to FCSA members undergoing this rigorous review process, Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC says:

"We are delighted to see that three providers have now gone thorough the FCSA's rigorous code assessment process. This process has two important factors: one is independent review which ensures objectivity and the other is HMRC involvement. While we can not endorse any providers we are pleased that the FCSA are bringing standards and professional conduct into a part of our industry sector."

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo:

"APSCo has long had confidence in the services provided by FCSA members and has been pleased to support the Association’s endeavours since its inception. I am particularly pleased to note the code’s unique clarification of FCSA members’ financial standing and their positive net worth. The FCSA code goes beyond anything else that is available in the market and will be the clear leader in setting compliance standards going forward."


We are actively working with recruiters who are relooking at their PSLs and evaluating; a) what their PSL is actually for and b) do their service providers provide a true umbrella model that mitigates their risk as it should. The ones that don't are being removed.

You are right in that contractors won't know which companies have failed the audit and don't stand up against the code of conduct, but then an easy way to solve this is to only work with those service providers that have passed the standard. We are finding that more and more of the recruiters we are working with are taking this view point as it also protects their business and profitability.

So its win win for contractors and recruiters.

LisaContractorUmbrella
28th January 2011, 10:39
All reasonably sized umbrella companies will be required, by law, to have an audit conducted by an external auditor and any kind of suspected misappropriation would have to be reported in their findings. The published accounts are then available to view at Companies House.

Don't get me wrong Steve, I am all about companies in this industry working together to improve standards and promote excellent working practises but there are many, many audit schemes out there which all make the same claim as FCSA - most of them are run by umbrella companies (as in your case) and none of them offer the contractors protection; ultimately if the company is badly run it will be the contractor that loses out and a one day visit once a year will not prevent that.

Steven@Parasol
28th January 2011, 15:56
All reasonably sized umbrella companies will be required, by law, to have an audit conducted by an external auditor and any kind of suspected misappropriation would have to be reported in their findings. The published accounts are then available to view at Companies House.

Don't get me wrong Steve, I am all about companies in this industry working together to improve standards and promote excellent working practises but there are many, many audit schemes out there which all make the same claim as FCSA - most of them are run by umbrella companies (as in your case) and none of them offer the contractors protection; ultimately if the company is badly run it will be the contractor that loses out and a one day visit once a year will not prevent that.

Fair points as ever Lisa but we don't own the FCSA. Neither do Brookson nor Giant, we do all pay an annual memebership fee of £7,500, the majority of which is to cover the costs of the audit. I think from previous comments from the chair there are currently nine other companies looking to go through the audit process and apply the code of conduct or that are in some way in the middle of the process. I would have to check that though.


None of the other audit standards have worked so we all need to look to something else. Sunday Solutions for one had all the audit standards and look what happened there. Most of the organisations that compile umbrella league tables and acceditation are owned or part owned by umbrella companies as you say and you pay for the badge of honour (which offer no protection to the contractor whatsoever) so we intentionally do not have them on our website. Believe me, we work with almost 8,000 contractors at the moment and over 2,000 recruiters so we are arguably one of the top three or four service providers in the country. All the accreditors and league table companies would love us to be involved and display their logo on our website but we won't pay to be included in a faux league table which has been created for commercial reasons and because they don't actually protect anyone. It's just a marketing exercise that contractors can see through.


None of the other standards have been created with advice from HMRC. And apologies for cutting and pasting alot but I wanted to include the comments from the Director of People Services at KPMG. it saves me typing it all out!

This was published by Recruiter in July last year. (http://www.recruiter.co.uk/audits-welcomed-by-fcsa-members/1006300.article)

A director of the Big Four accountancy firm carrying out independent audits of prospective members of the FCSA (Freelancer &Contractor Services Association) says existing members have been “pleasantly surprised” by how much the audits “got under the skin of their businesses”.

The comments from John Chaplin, director people services at KPMG, came after the trade association revealed that the three founder membersof the FCSA - Brookson, Parasol and giant - are the first companies to have successfully completed the review.


So far, these are the only companies to have gone through the review process, launched in September, with the intention of raising levels of compliance in the industry, which includes umbrella companies, and businesses providing support and accountancy services to small limited companies.

The audit, which is a prerequisite for FCSA membership consists of two stages: a desktop questionnaire and an onsite visit by KPMG. It covers areas such as employment contracts, checks on directors and financial checks, as well as checks that that companies are adhering to rules on expenses, minimum wage legislation and standards of customer care.

Chaplin said that while it was easy for companies to have the right documentation, training materials and guides, it was more difficult to ensure that standards were being met in practice “when people [auditors] start shaking a stick at it”.

He said the onsite visits included listening in on conversations between staff and clients/prospective clients, and asking staff hypothetical questions about how they would react in certain circumstances.

Chaplin said that the audit was not a simple matter of pass or fail. “It’s more ’here are the gold, silver and bronze standards’. Where are you and how can we help you to move up the scale? Firms that initially fail to meet the ’pass standard’ have four weeks to correct any failings,” he explained.

Chaplin said the code was already having an impact, with three clients asking KPMG for “a dirty and quick review” before they go through the full process.

Following the process, the desktop questionnaire and the report from KPMG go to HM Revenue & Customs. The review process is completed annually to ensure standards are maintained and any changes to legislation are applied.

Stuart Davis, chairman of the FCSA, told Recruiter that nine companies are looking at going through the process “very, very seriously”.

The code was produced with advice from HMRC, though it has not been formally endorsed by them. The cost of £4,000 or £2,000 (where more than one company owned by the same person goes through a review) comes out of the annual FCSA membership fee of £7,500.

LisaContractorUmbrella
31st January 2011, 13:28
Fair points as ever Lisa but we don't own the FCSA. Neither do Brookson nor Giant, we do all pay an annual memebership fee of £7,500, the majority of which is to cover the costs of the audit. I think from previous comments from the chair there are currently nine other companies looking to go through the audit process and apply the code of conduct or that are in some way in the middle of the process. I would have to check that though.


None of the other audit standards have worked so we all need to look to something else. Sunday Solutions for one had all the audit standards and look what happened there. Most of the organisations that compile umbrella league tables and acceditation are owned or part owned by umbrella companies as you say and you pay for the badge of honour (which offer no protection to the contractor whatsoever) so we intentionally do not have them on our website. Believe me, we work with almost 8,000 contractors at the moment and over 2,000 recruiters so we are arguably one of the top three or four service providers in the country. All the accreditors and league table companies would love us to be involved and display their logo on our website but we won't pay to be included in a faux league table which has been created for commercial reasons and because they don't actually protect anyone. It's just a marketing exercise that contractors can see through.


None of the other standards have been created with advice from HMRC. And apologies for cutting and pasting alot but I wanted to include the comments from the Director of People Services at KPMG. it saves me typing it all out!

This was published by Recruiter in July last year. (http://www.recruiter.co.uk/audits-welcomed-by-fcsa-members/1006300.article)

A director of the Big Four accountancy firm carrying out independent audits of prospective members of the FCSA (Freelancer &Contractor Services Association) says existing members have been “pleasantly surprised” by how much the audits “got under the skin of their businesses”.

The comments from John Chaplin, director people services at KPMG, came after the trade association revealed that the three founder membersof the FCSA - Brookson, Parasol and giant - are the first companies to have successfully completed the review.


So far, these are the only companies to have gone through the review process, launched in September, with the intention of raising levels of compliance in the industry, which includes umbrella companies, and businesses providing support and accountancy services to small limited companies.

The audit, which is a prerequisite for FCSA membership consists of two stages: a desktop questionnaire and an onsite visit by KPMG. It covers areas such as employment contracts, checks on directors and financial checks, as well as checks that that companies are adhering to rules on expenses, minimum wage legislation and standards of customer care.

Chaplin said that while it was easy for companies to have the right documentation, training materials and guides, it was more difficult to ensure that standards were being met in practice “when people [auditors] start shaking a stick at it”.

He said the onsite visits included listening in on conversations between staff and clients/prospective clients, and asking staff hypothetical questions about how they would react in certain circumstances.

Chaplin said that the audit was not a simple matter of pass or fail. “It’s more ’here are the gold, silver and bronze standards’. Where are you and how can we help you to move up the scale? Firms that initially fail to meet the ’pass standard’ have four weeks to correct any failings,” he explained.

Chaplin said the code was already having an impact, with three clients asking KPMG for “a dirty and quick review” before they go through the full process.

Following the process, the desktop questionnaire and the report from KPMG go to HM Revenue & Customs. The review process is completed annually to ensure standards are maintained and any changes to legislation are applied.

Stuart Davis, chairman of the FCSA, told Recruiter that nine companies are looking at going through the process “very, very seriously”.

The code was produced with advice from HMRC, though it has not been formally endorsed by them. The cost of £4,000 or £2,000 (where more than one company owned by the same person goes through a review) comes out of the annual FCSA membership fee of £7,500.

So what happens to the other £3500?

Steven@Parasol
1st February 2011, 09:46
So what happens to the other £3500?

Sorry Lisa I was offline yesterday.

The £3500 goes to funding the administration of the FCSA and costs. It has an indendent chair and admin team. It also funds the various lobbying efforts and PR support which are conducted by external specialist organisations.

LisaContractorUmbrella
1st February 2011, 14:20
Sorry Lisa I was offline yesterday.

The £3500 goes to funding the administration of the FCSA and costs. It has an indendent chair and admin team. It also funds the various lobbying efforts and PR support which are conducted by external specialist organisations.

Sorry, I missed it from your earlier posts - does the FCSA have 3 members or 12 currently?

Steven@Parasol
2nd February 2011, 10:27
Sorry, I missed it from your earlier posts - does the FCSA have 3 members or 12 currently?

3 members that have completed the audit, another nine are currently going through the process (but I would have to check that).

LisaContractorUmbrella
2nd February 2011, 14:15
3 members that have completed the audit, another nine are currently going through the process (but I would have to check that).

Oh ok thanks Steve. So am I right in saying that the FCSA is a not for profit organisation? If the additional £3500 per year is going on promoting umbrella company standards and promoting those companies that have completed the audit then I can definitely see the benefit.