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Contracting News

Employers are sending a "bumper pack" to Members of Parliament this New Year to demonstrate just how much red tape firms have to deal with.

ATSCo members are unanimous in proposing that personal service companies should be excluded from the proposed agency conduct regulations.

In late December, The Office of the e-Envoy published new guidelines for policy makers across government designed to ensure that new government policies are effective in the e-world.

The Australian IT industry, already suffering from the technology slowdown, is up in arms over the publication of a government report which urges companies to outsource work to India in order to save money.

ICL, the IT solutions giant, has announced plans to cut its workforce by 1,500. ICL blames the cuts on disappointing business results against the backdrop of adverse market conditions affecting the IT industry, as a whole.

Following the Chancellor's speech on Tuesday, The Inland Revenue has published a report entitled 'Boosting Investment and Growth for Small Businesses', which forms part of the Pre-Budget Report.

'Freelance Informer', the magazine for the IT contracting industry, published its final issue this weekend. FI was sent out to over 20,000 subscribers every fortnight for over fifteen years and was a key source of quality editorial and the latest news.

The National Computing Centre (NCC) has released results of its latest annual survey, based on the responses of 490 participating companies. In addition to salary levels and market predictions / trends, the survey shows that demand for IT contractors may have contracted to levels last seen in the early 1990's.

At their site launch, Gerry McLaughlin, founder of NamesFacesPlaces, the reunion site for contractors, stated that the slump in the market for contractors was close to its bottom.

BT Retail CEO, Pierre Danon, has announced a massive shake-up of British Telecom's cost structure over the next few years. Although some savings have already been made in infastructure savings, the telecoms giant is planning to shed 19% of its workforce by March 2003, which will include some IT contractor staff.

Douglas Alexander, the E-Commerce minister, has announced that the UK is to relax visa restrictions for Indian technology specialists who wish to work in Britain.

Following investigations by the City of London Police and Lloyd's of London, Lloyd's is issuing a warning to all persons and companies holding insurance policies issued by CFT Group Insurance Services (CFT), which is believed to have ceased trading.

Following claims on various recruitment industry forums, Jobserve has defended its decision to censor adverts that insist on candidates holding valid EU work permits.

Angela Eagle, MP, has revealed a large increase in the number of overseas workers who have come to the UK via the Government's 'fast track visa' programme over the last 12 months.

The Professional Contractors Group has updated its draft contracts to included the latest guidance and case law for contractors to demonstrate they are outside the IR35 restrictions.

In line with its carefully planned expansion programme SJD will be opening a new office in Bristol city centre on Monday, 22 October, 2001. SJD (South-West) will be headed up by Peter Morris BA ACA, an experienced accountant with extensive knowledge of the particular requirements of IT Contractors.

Embarcadero has created the world's first IT 'Lifestyle' Census to understand what makes IT people tick.

We received an email recently from a visitor who is contracting for IBM. The email demonstrates the methods some agencies are using to inform contractors of rate cuts. The email also raises the suggestion that more clients could hire contractors directly rather than paying commissions to their preferred suppliers.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has outlined details of a Government plan to find the next generation of "IT" girls - but the focus will be firmly on micro-chips not micro-skirts.

According to a revealing report in yesterday's Sunday Times, Inland Revenue staff have been sending out tax demands which they know to be wrong, and which are costing taxpayers a small fortune in the process. This information is believed to have come from internal leaks, which hitherto have been shrouded in a culture of secrecy and risks of disciplinary action for 'speaking out'.

Deutsche Bank are the latest to declare an across-the-board 10% rate cut for all IT contracting staff. In what has become a summer of rate cuts, Deutsche Bank join the list which now includes Hewlett Packard, Citigroup, Ericsson and Credit Suisse First Boston.

It's certainly been an eventful year in the IT Market. IR35 has become more and more of a going concern for many contractors, combined with the downsizing in the IT contracting market. But is there really anything to be too concerned about? I personally think the market is changing for the better. Let's look at the issues of IR35 and reducing demands for contractors and the effects it could have.

In its Annual Report for 2001, the Adjudicators Office highlights that there was a 4% increase in the number of complaints either wholly or partly upheld against the Inland Revenue. "The complaints we see highlight issues that in some way leave a taxpayer feeling dissatisfied." states the report.

The market in Asia Pacific IT services is growing at a phenomenal rate and it is expected to continue to grow at 25% compound annual growth rate till 2004. Companies in India offer high quality services at a low cost which is very attractive to big business.

The Labour Party launched its Small Business Strategy on the 15th May 2001. The goal is " make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business and to create an environment where Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME's) are the centre-piece of an increasingly vibrant and successful British economy."

The Sunday Times Rich List 2001 has been compiled, and shows a dramatic reversal of fortune for many technology stars of the past few years, and also highlights the extraordinary wealth generated from recruitment services!

Responding to a parliamentary question from Sir Patrick Cormack on Monday, the government has revealed how many foreign IT specialists were granted work permits during 2000.

We received an email from one of our visitors which suggests that the recently announced 'fast track' visa policy is already paying dividends for this Government.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is challenging the Government to clarify the status of the self employed by publishing its own 'White Paper' setting out proposals for a guarantee of rights for the sector.

The Sunday Times has published its latest Fast Track 100 survey. The list contains a large number of recruitment related entries, led by Dataworkforce, a telecoms agency which has seen sales increase from £0.3m to £20m between 1996 and 1999.

As part of the Government's drive to solve to skills shortage problem in the UK, the E-Commerce Minister, Patricia Hewitt, spent last week in India publicising the new "fast-track" permit scheme.

An article in Monday's 'Daily Mail' has caused a stir within the contracting industry. The article 'firms fear plan to boost rights of the self-employed' by Darren Behar reveals new government proposals to give 'contract workers' stronger legal rights.

Following a recent poll by news provider in which it was revealled that two thirds of all IT people surveyed worried about getting work after the age of 45, the government has conceded that legislation may be required to tackle age discrimination in the IT industry.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants have issued a press release detailing the dramatic rise in the costs of 'red tape' to small businesses in the UK.

The U.S Senate has passed legislation to issue 600,000 visas for skilled foreigners who temporarily fill specialised U.S jobs, largely in the high-technology industry. The legislation is certain to receive Presidential approval shortly. The bill was approved by the Senate by an overwheming 96-1 majority.

Over half our visitors charge at least £40 per hour (26% charge £50 or more per hour). The average commission charged (where known) is approximately 15%.

Following on from the recent announcement of a pilot scheme to attact overseas 'entrepreneurs'. Barbara Roche yesterday called for an honest debate on the benefits of 'managed migration' to help address the nation's growing skills gap.

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