The potential for public sector IR35 rules migrating to apply to private enterprises is the top concern for the UK’s contractors, according to a new survey.

Tax advisory consultancy Qdos Contractor surveyed a number of the country’s contracting professionals and asked what their most pressing concern was for the year ahead.

Top of contractors’ list are rumours that IR35 will be transcribed into the private sector, amid widespread criticism of the rules for self-employed workers since their unveiling in April.

The survey’s authors report that many respondents have either left the public sector since being “swept up” by new regulations or pushed up their fees in order to compensate for the loss of income caused by higher taxes.

Indeed, most respondents appear to have made their peace with the changes to public sector contracting, with only 10 per cent ranking it among their biggest fears.

Just under a fifth –18 per cent – say that competition for contracts is their foremost concern, while roughly the same proportion – 17 per cent – are concerned about the lack of support for self-employed professionals, governmental or otherwise.

Seb Maley, Qdos Contractor’s CEO, said that he hoped the government would learn from its previous errors and put a “rapid end” to the uncertainty surrounding IR35.

He added: “Recent changes to public sector IR35 caused panic among contractors, public sector engagers and agencies. And while the dust has somewhat settled as hirers begin to get to grips with reform, a repeat performance in the private sector would not be wise.”

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