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Public sector leaps to become biggest employer of accountancy contractors

Public sector leaps to become biggest employer of accountancy contractors
40% of accountancy contractors now work for the public sector
Driven by public sector demands for efficiency
The public sector is now the largest single user of accountancy and finance contractors in the UK, increasing its share of the contractor market from 33.9% to 39.8% over the last year, reveals research by giant group plc, the contractor services provider. The percentage of accountancy contractors employed by investment banks and fund managers has declined from 17.5% to 8.5% over the same period.
This is higher than the average for the public sector which employs 19.5% of the UK workforce overall, according to data from National Statistics.
According to giant, many public sector bodies have been increasing their utilisation of accountancy contractors in response to unplanned for demands placed on them by the financial crisis.
The demand for accountancy skills within the Treasury, Financial Services Authority and the Bank of England has mushroomed following the banking crisis, says giant. Across the public sector more accountancy and interim financial controllers are being hired to help find efficiency savings.
Matthew Brown, Managing Director of giant, comments: The financial crisis has placed an unprecedented burden on finance departments within the public sector, both in terms of workload and the level of expertise required. Inevitably, external skills are being drafted in as boosting in-house expertise is an urgent requirement.
The public sector is under huge pressure to beef up its financial management and manage its budgets more efficiently as tax revenues dwindle. It has a target to achieve 30 billion of cost savings by 2010, which will require meticulous financial planning.
According to giant, accountancy contractors increasingly favour higher hourly rates over longer term contracts evidence that contractors are less concerned about job security than they were six months ago and are instead looking to maximise their income. 54.3% of contractors would prefer higher hourly pay than a longer term contract compared to 50.8% a year ago. 
Matthew Brown says: Demand for accountancy contractors is less likely to be adversely affected by the current economic uncertainty than temporary workers in other sectors of the economy. The long term underproduction of accountancy skills in the UK means there is still very little spare capacity in the jobs market and quality candidates are still in demand.
According to the giant research, 65.1% of accountancy contractors still expect their earnings to rise over the next year. This is down from 76.9% 12 months ago.
Matthew Brown says: Finance departments are at the forefront of organisations restructuring plans during the downturn. Many are being asked to manage cost cutting programmes and restructure businesses. As a result demand for flexible accountancy skills has remained relatively buoyant.  


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