ContractorUK Reader Awards 2014: the winners

PayStream has triumphed at the ContractorUK Readers Awards 2014, sponsored by Hiscox and unveiled today, by scooping  ‘best umbrella company’ and also runner-up as the ‘best accountant.’

It represents a return to form for the Cheshire-based firm, as it won the same two titles in 2012 but only retained one of them at last year’s awards in 2013.

PayStream’s managing director Paul Malley said yesterday: “Being voted Contractor UK’s best umbrella company for the second time in three years and achieving runner-up in the best accountant category for the fourth year running is an amazing accolade”.

The firm’s win in the umbrella category overturns last year’s winner Giant group which, in turn, are voted the runner-up this year, ahead of Contractor Umbrella, voted the third best.  

And SJD Accountancy, another veteran of the contractor marketplace, has won ‘best accountant’ for contractors -- a title it has never dropped since securing it at the inaugural CUK Awards in 2006.

SJD’s chief executive Simon Curry said last night: “I am extremely grateful to everyone that has recognised the hard work and dedication of our staff and voted us Best Contractor Accountant for an eighth consecutive year”.

The rest of the vote for tax experts was evenly split between InTouch Accounting and inniAccounts, which are each joint-third winners of the accountancy category -- the most competitive.

FTSE-listed Hays, specifically Hays IT, received the most votes in the agency category, making it the best recruitment firm for IT contractors, once again.

“To be named Best Recruitment Agency by ContractorUK readers for the second consecutive year is tremendous,” said Hays IT’s managing director Lee Chant.

“We are grateful to all the readers who voted for us… and this is testament to the hard work of our UK team, and our commitment to providing an expert service to IT contractors.”

Also keeping its award is Aston Carter, which CUK readers still say is the second best agency for IT contracts. The third most votes went to Capita.

Meanwhile Jobserve, set up by an IT contractor, has taken the title ‘best jobsite.’ However it came close to being beaten by Technojobs which convincingly retained its title of second best jobsite for IT contractors.    

HSBC, one of the few banks not to take state cash in the credit crisis, has won ‘best client’ for IT contractors. It saw off competition from Barclays, the category's runner-up despite cutting rates.   

Another always hotly contested award is for Best IT Contractor Training Provider. In second place this year is Capita, which was edged out by awards newcomer The Learning People.

“[We] are delighted that we’ve won ‘Best Training Provider’ of 2014 with ContractorUK,” said the Learning People’s chief executive Patrick Aylmer.

“As a team, we are driven to provide the best quality service possible, whether this is the initial consultation, orientations around the eLearning platform or even exam booking.”

Also driven to provide quality - at least in the answers he provides to other ContractorUK Forum users - is TheFaQQer. He has been voted Best Forum Adviser of 2014.

He wins the title for using his rich experience of contracting to help ‘newbies’ stuck on dividends, contracts, IR35 and the like. A keen organiser, he’s already started making arrangements for ‘Christmas party 2015.’  

Yet with even greater affection, votes for ‘Forum Personality’ were passionately cast for ‘doodab’ whose touching ‘Contractor till I die…’ post is still read by the many people who miss him greatly.

His strength, courage and humility from hospital to hospice inspired those he knew and even those he didn’t. One wrote: “Never did I think a CUK poster would be in my thoughts daily.”

But it’s Zeitghost, with his humour, posting style and posting volume (over 20 a day including the popular ‘Fed up Now…’), that has propelled him to win ‘Forum Personality.’

The lighter side of IT contracting is also behind the award for ‘Most Entertaining Forum Thread.’ It once went to ‘test please delete’ but in 2014 it goes to ‘Stuff my mate predicts.’

A ContractorUK spokesman said: “Whether your vote was to do with our Forum, or if it was for an agent, brolly or client, thank you for your time in making these unique awards happen. It is also important to recognise all of those who received votes and note the great contribution they all make to our industry.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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