In the wake of thousands of job cuts in the oil and gas industry caused by tumbling oil prices, Umbrella Company Employees and other freelancers contracting in the sector are set to benefit from a new investment tax break for North Sea explorers.

Reports are emerging that the chancellor, George Osborne, intends to introduce the new allowance in the March 2015 budget in an effort to boost investment in the industry, which traditionally provides work for many thousands of independent contractors. The industry in many respects is the perfect setting for flexible independent professionals, as it frequently requires specialist expertise at very short notice.

IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has warmly welcomed the new measure. Its director of policy and external affairs, Simon McVicker, said that Mr Osborne’s plans to introduce tax breaks for North Sea oil producers would “go a long way to boost a hugely important industry which is dominated by contractors.”

Contractors in the sector, he noted, had been hit the hardest by the recent fall in oil prices and had on a weekly basis faced cuts in pay rates, reduced hours and abruptly terminated contracts.

The chancellor continued: “The desperately needed tax break proposals will hopefully help to boost investment for the industry and strengthen the UK’s economic growth as a result. Independent professionals have a huge part to play in enabling economic growth and any initiative which removes red tape or reduces the tax burden on businesses is to be welcomed.”

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