Most jobbing Umbrella Company Employees frequently face the issue of keeping their professional skills toolkit up to date with new training, even though the costs can be eye-watering. The contractor management group Professional Representation Network is now calling on the chancellor to allow self-employed professionals to claim training costs as a business expense.

The rules currently permit contractors to claim training costs as a business expense only if they are updating their existing skills; they are not permitted to make claims if they are acquiring new skills to expand their work horizons. The restrictions are unnecessarily damaging the development of the country’s skills base and are exacerbating the skills shortage, according to the Professional Representation Network.

Independent professionals typically pursue their contracting careers in fast-developing sectors such as mobile technology, IT, financial services, engineering, and oil and gas, all of which are characterised by rapidly-evolving skills requirements.  An IT systems administration specialist who wanted to train as an app developer would currently be prevented from claiming training costs, as would an oil rig machine worker who wished to train as a gas safety professional, as these new areas lie outside their existing skills base.

The Professional Representation Network’s director, Kristian Gourlay, said that existing rules on claimable expenses simply do not reflect how contractors work or the rapidly changing needs of business. Warning that businesses would be forced to find skills overseas if they can’t source them in the UK, Mr Gourlay added: “It would make a lot more sense if contractors could claim for any business training as a business expense.”

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