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Don't be fooled by mini umbrella companies

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    Don't be fooled by mini umbrella companies

    I've decided to repost this following a couple of sad posts regarding HMRC Enquiries on umbrellas that were not what they seemed.

    As the latest umbrella company (Compusource) hits the buffers with contractor's money, I thought I'd remind people what 'due diligence' is all about.

    It's all about checking that companies are what they say they are and that they are following the rules. The slight hiccup is that you need to know what those rules are.

    Well here's the first one - you need to know who you are dealing with.

    No, really.

    You must be able to point to a person who owns or runs the company. The Director (or Directors) of that company. Or even know if it's a real company.

    Was Compusource a real company?

    The First Company Law Amendment Directive came in on 1 January 2007, and companies are required to put the following information on both their website and business emails:
    • the company registration number
    • place of registration (such as England and Wales)
    • registered office address.

    In addition, the website also needs to include:
    • The company name, postal address and company email address
    • The name of any trade bodies or professional associations that the business is part of, including membership or registration details.
    • The company VAT number, even if the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions.
    • Any prices on the website must be clear and unambiguous.


    All of this information only needs to be on the website once and it doesn't need to be highly visible, so look in About us/Contact Us/Legal Information/T&C pages (or just google 'registered office site:companyname.com')

    Why is this important? As the disgruntled Compusource contractors are discovering, you need to find a person responsible if the company suddenly refuses to answer its phone.

    Why would a reputable company NOT give you this information?

    Having a Limited company name helps to locate them (and the Directors) in Companies House. Without a Ltd Company you can't do that. There are a few Compsource's in Companies House and who's to say which (if any) is the right one?

    Admittedly, looking the website up on WHOIS.net may help but in compusource.co.uk's case that domain is available!

    So, before you sign on the dotted line with ANY company, at least make sure that it's a real company with real people that you can point solicitors at if it all goes belly up...

    Finally, my advice is to think LONG AND HARD about a company that doesn't have this information on it's website.

    For further information on what should be on a company website, look here: The UK's E-Commerce Regulations

    Note: Search Nominet for uk websites (I forgot to do that...)
    Last edited by cojak; 9 March 2021, 22:33. Reason: Updated to include Mini Umbrellas
    "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
    - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

    #2
    Advice particularly relating to Mini Companies...

    Contractors' Questions: What is a Mini-Umbrella Company? (contractoruk.com)

    Contractors, don't be fooled by imposter umbrella companies :: Contractor UK

    http://www.contractoruk.com/umbrella...wild_west.html

    then go into Companies House and check against this list.

    Unusual or odd name - Many organizations are probably going to have been made simultaneously, with irregular addresses that might house tens of companies with similar names.

    Unsuitable Descriptions - How does the umbrella describe itself? Often the description doesn’t match what the salesman tells you. Make sure you check.

    Foreign employers - Most of the companies have foreign based Directors and company Secretaries.

    Large worker turnover - Directors and Secretaries regularly move between various related companies.

    Not around for long - How long have they been trading? Mini umbrella organizations were probably created recently or were dormant until a short while ago.

    Being paid by different employers - MUCs fall apart once their turnover hits the Flat rate VAT thresholds - to get around that workers will be moved every few months to a new "employer"
    Last edited by cojak; 10 May 2021, 12:04.
    "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
    - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

    Comment


      #3
      Always worth a quick check on Duedil too - past directorships can sometimes show up some interesting info

      Comment


        #4
        I’ve ve decided to re-stick this post. It may come in handy for some people.
        "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
        - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

        Comment


          #5
          Great idea - based on the horror stories I am hearing already!

          Let's get one thing straight, if you are a 40% tax payer, your take home is likely to be in the region of 52-56% of your contract rate (unless paying into a pension) - anything more and seriously think about what it is you are looking at!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by lucyclarityumbrella View Post
            Great idea - based on the horror stories I am hearing already!

            Let's get one thing straight, if you are a 40% tax payer, your take home is likely to be in the region of 52-56% of your contract rate (unless paying into a pension) - anything more and seriously think about what it is you are looking at!
            + expenses if working away from home out of your net 52% giving you 30% ish


            Sent from my iPhone using Contractor UK Forum

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by GhostofTarbera View Post
              + expenses if working away from home out of your net 52% giving you 30% ish
              And I thought I was the bearer of bad news

              Comment


                #8
                Updated to include Mini Umbrellas.
                "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
                - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Here is the latest article on Mini umbrellas

                  Mini umbrella firms costing UK taxpayer millions - BBC News
                  "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
                  - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by cojak View Post
                    Advice particularly relating to Mini Companies...

                    Contractors, don't be fooled by imposter umbrella companies :: Contractor UK

                    http://www.contractoruk.com/umbrella...wild_west.html

                    then go into Companies House and check against this list.

                    Unusual or odd name - Many organizations are probably going to have been made simultaneously, with irregular addresses that might house tens of companies with similar names.

                    Unsuitable Descriptions - How does the umbrella describe itself? Often the description doesn’t match what the salesman tells you. Make sure you check.

                    Foreign employers - Most of the companies have foreign based Directors and company Secretaries.

                    Large worker turnover - Directors and Secretaries regularly move between various related companies.

                    Not around for long - How long have they been trading? Mini umbrella organizations were probably created recently or were dormant until a short while ago.
                    Being paid by different employers - MUCs fall apart once their turnover hits the Flat rate VAT thresholds - to get around that workers will be moved every few months to a new "employer"
                    merely at clientco for the entertainment

                    Comment

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