2020 was a challenging year for agencies and contractors alike, and not just because of the coronavirus pandemic. Brexit and the upcoming IR35 changes have added to the sense of uncertainty that business owners faced throughout the past year, which has continued into 2021.

However, whilst it may appear we’re facing the perfect storm as we move further into 2021 in this blog, we will look into how you can overcome that uncertainty in the contractor market to ensure your business’s success this year.


As businesses attempt to recover from the financial devastation of the last year, or are making plans to do so later this year, and we hopefully see restrictions eased and the national lockdown come to end, employing contractors rather than permanent hires could be the perfect solution for many businesses.

By hiring contractors, businesses can fill any gaps in their resources and knowledge and bring new skills into the mix. This may also allow them to revitalize any projects that may have been paused in 2020 due to a lack of staff or resources.

In the meantime, there any many support packages available from the government that businesses can apply for in the hope this will keep them afloat through the latest lockdown. The latest grant, a one-off payment of up to £9,000 is specifically for those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, otherwise known as the furlough scheme, has also been extended until April and the 100% business rates relief measure is in place until the end of March. More information on the support available can be found here.


As of 23:00 GMT on 31st December 2020, the UK completed its formal separation from the EU single market and customs union. The UK Government has since secured an approved trade deal, which sets out the framework for how the UK and EU will live, work, and trade together.

The full details of how the new trade deal will impact the contractor workforce is still to be disclosed. However, we know that it will impact the ability to move freely within the EU and the impact of the new rules, tariffs and regulations will hinder businesses ability to recruit EU nationals.

One of the impending changes that agencies and contractors should keep an eye on, is the changes that’ll affect right to work documentation. Employers will no longer be able to rely on an EU passport for example, as proof of an individual’s right to work within the UK. Rather, EU nationals who wish to stay living and working in the UK must apply for a new visa, to prove their Settled/Pre-Settled status. For any agencies who employ EU workers, to ensure compliance, your workers need to apply for this visa before the 30th June 2021 deadline to secure their right to continue living and working in the UK.

Contractors will still be able to work across numerous sectors throughout the EU, however, the nature of the Brexit regulations may dissuade businesses from doing so. On a more positive note, remote working has seen an influx in popularity due to the Coronavirus pandemic. And the flexibility that contractors can offer may see them relied upon more than ever as business shift to align themselves with the new rules and regulations.

More information on the trade deal and how the new regulations may affect your business can be found here.


As of April 2021, the responsibility for determining workers’ employment status will fall with the client (i.e. agency) rather than the worker themselves. This legislation change applies to all large, medium or private sector companies and agencies, and is called ‘off-payroll working’.

Agencies will be responsible for determining the employment status of their workers and whether they fall inside or outside of IR35, for example, if you are registered as self-employed but are found to be working as an employee, the end client will be responsible for paying any additional tax due.

It possible to work ‘outside’ the scope of IR35 if you are a limited company contractor genuinely working on your own, i.e., using a contract to provide services, not “employed” by a client.

Whilst the IR35 reform has caused a lot of concern, realistically the IR35 regulations shouldn’t result in businesses pushing contractors away. On the contrary, regulations simply encourage business owners to ensure all working relationships with contractors are compliant by defining the status of the contractor against HMRC’s criteria for tax purposes.

How Can We Help?

We understand that as we enter 2021, Brexit, the continuing Coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming IR35 reforms all have the potential to cause uncertainty and with so many changes it can be overwhelming. Here at Azure Global, we are here to put your mind at rest.

Our team are ready and happy to help you through the ideal options for your business and put a plan in place for your business payroll Solution needs.

Contact our friendly, knowledgeable staff today to discuss what we can do for you.


Chancellor Rishi Sunak has recently announced a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 to help businesses survive the latest coronavirus lockdown, which was implemented on 6th January 2021, and is expected to last until at least mid-February.

The total package is expected to cost £4.6 billion and is being made available to businesses across the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors in an effort to keep some of the hardest-hit industries afloat until the Spring. These one-off top-up payments are expected to assist more than 600,000 businesses who are currently unable to operate due to the latest lockdown restrictions.


How Much Is My Business Entitled To?


If your business is in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector which has been legally required to close in the latest lockdown, and cannot operate effectively remotely, then you are eligible for a grant.

The amount of the grant to be offered will be based on the level of business rates typically paid by each business as outlined in the table below.

Rateable Business ValueClaim
£15,000 or lessUp to £4,000
Between £15,000 and £51,000Up to £6,000
More than £51,000 Up to £9,000


How Do I Apply for a Grant?


All businesses need to apply through their local authorities. Click here to be taken to the government website to find the right local authority to contact to submit your application.

What If My Business Is Not Eligible But I Still Need Financial Support?


An additional £594 million is also being made available for local authorities and the devolved administrations to support businesses who may not be eligible for the grants.

From this discretionary fund, the Scottish government will receive £375 million, the Welsh government £227 million and Northern Ireland £127 million.

As with the one-off top-up grant, you should contact your local authority to ask for support and see how much you might be eligible for.


Are There Any Other Options Available To Support My Business Through Lockdown?


Yes, the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, otherwise known as the furlough scheme, has been extended until April and the 100% business rates relief measure is in place until the end of March.

Additionally, if you claim one of the one-off top-up grants, you will still be eligible for other business support measures in place such as grants worth up to £3,000 for closed businesses and grants up to £2,100 each month for businesses who have been impacted, once they reopen.


How Can We Help?


We understand it must be a very uncertain and worrying time to be a business owner. As the government announce their new financial support packages, we want to take this opportunity to remind you, that we are also here to help.


Need more information? The Azure team are here and happy to help you in thinking through the ideal options for your business and putting a plan in place for your business payroll needs.

Contact our friendly, knowledgeable staff today to discuss what we can do for you.