Businesses are pushed by their uncertainty over Brexit to use contractors instead of hiring permanent staff, leading to non-EU accountants being brought in to plug skills gaps, according to SJD Accountancy statistics.

Accounting and finance contractor demand has increased by 57% since the Brexit vote, according to research by SJD Accountancy.

“Demand for accounting professionals operating as contractors has strengthened as hirers became more reluctant to commit to permanent hires,” CEO of SJD Accountancy Derek Kelly said. “Bringing in a non-EU worker entails a higher level of commitment and is something hirers are more likely to do when there is more certainty over future demand.”

The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has also lead to a fall in work permits issued to non-EU accountants and finance professionals, decreasing 5.6% to 3,300 in 2016, from 3,495 in 2015. Despite the decline, the number of non-EU accountancy and finance professionals entering the UK to fill skills shortages is still 70% higher than in 2010, when there were 1,937 work permits issued.

Work permits issued to non-EU tax professionals jumped by 12% in 2016 as demand for tax skills continues to outstrip supply. The official Home Office figures revealed that 365 non-EU tax professionals entered the UK in 2016, up from 325 in 2015 and 220 in 2010.

Kelly stated that the shortage of tax professionals is serious due to more complex and changing corporate tax laws, especially as UK businesses are increasingly international so they need to get to grips with country-by-country reporting requirements. HMRC’s transfer pricing enquiries net profit means taxation experts with experience are more sought after, and this work is ideally suited for contractors.

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“Baby boomers are retiring or eschewing complex areas like tax, while the cutbacks made to graduate programmes and training are still being felt. Far from weakening demand for accountancy and finance skills, Brexit is likely to fuel demand as companies adapt,” Kelly added.