New data from specialist corporate and marketing communications recruitment consultancy VMA Group suggests that uncertainty over the outcome of the EU referendum in June is creating unprecedented demand for Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals supplying PR and communications talent across the UK

The figures come on the back of a series of polls and other data this week, which similarly strongly indicate that Brexit fears are depressing permanent hiring and leading businesses to turn to the temporary and contracting wing of the labour market to fulfil business-critical projects.

VMA Group has noticed a spike in vacancies for temporary and contracting roles during Q1 2016, as organisations defer the appointment of permanent employees until a decision is finally made on Britain’s position in Europe. The company also cites anecdotal evidence indicating that large numbers of professionals in the sector are also postponing job moves until there is more certainty in the market.

The consultancy’s executive director of internal communications, Andrew Harvey, said in a press release: “VMA is finding that many companies are choosing interim answers rather than permanent solutions. At the moment work is not stopping, but it is changing in both scope and focus. Many firms want support to help them get past the June date and beyond, but are reluctant to take an enduring commitment while the market is unstable.”

His colleague, director of external communications Lucinda Moore, went further, explaining that VMA supports its clients by offering the best candidates across Europe, fully utilising a founding principle of the EU: the free movement of labour. However, she added: “While there is uncertainty in the market, many comms professionals are reluctant to make the move to a new role.”

Earlier this week, a poll of chartered accountants conducted by their professional body, the ICAEW, found business and hiring confidence slumping to a four-year low as a direct result of Brexit fears and rising business costs associated with the National Living Wage and new pensions auto-enrolment requirements.

The poll findings were in line with recent survey results from market research firm GfK, which indicated growing fragility in both consumer and business confidence, underscoring predictions from the Bank of England that British companies are likely to defer spending decisions, including permanent hiring, until after the EU referendum.

Meanwhile, the latest UK Job Market Report from jobs search website Adzuna also found a marked slowdown in vacancies for permanent staff during Q1 2016. Adzuna’s co-founder, Doug Munro, said that Brexit fears were leading businesses to put permanent hiring on pause until after the referendum and turn to temporary/contracting workers to fill gaps in the meantime.

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