Accounting for Time: Survey

As part of our Accounting for Time campaign, we wanted to discover what contractors really feel about doing their accounts and what they wish they could do instead. We've summarised the findings below.

Seven in ten contractors stressed by managing accounts


• 69% of contractors say doing their own accounts causes them stress
• Their biggest worry is making costly accounting errors
• Despite their worries, fewer than one in ten use a specialist accountant

Seven in ten self-employed contractors said they are stressed out by doing their own financial accounts.

The self-employed are the fastest growing section of the UK workforce, and the survey of 359 self-employed contractors found almost three quarters (72%) do all their own accounting, with just 28% getting some help.

Only 7% employ a specialist accountant to do their accounts, while 18% employ a general accounting firm and two per cent rope in family or friends.

Of those contractors who do their own accounts, nearly seven in ten (69%) said it causes them some degree of stress.

When contractors were asked what the most stressful thing about doing their accounts is, over a third (35%) flagged worry about making mistakes, 15% the time it takes, 13% the complexity of the process and one in 20 (5%) worried about being hit with financial penalties.

These amateur accountants’ concerns appear well founded too: 17% said they had lost receipts, 11% had paid too much tax, 8% had made a late or incorrect payment to HMRC and 7% had missed a deadline to pay their taxes, which means being hit with a penalty of at least £100.

And more than a third of contractors said that doing their accounts is causing them personal problems.

One in ten (11%) said they lose sleep, 6% said it leads to arguments with family, friends or colleagues, five per cent said they have had to turn down paid work due to accounting commitments and three per cent said it has even made them ill.

Nick Rawlings, commercial director of SJD Accountancy, said: “Doing your accounts is complicated, so it’s no wonder it is causing so many contractors stress and other problems.

“It’s a growing issue too. There are currently 4.81 million self-employed people in the UK, which is up from 3.2 million five years ago, and now represents 15% of all workers.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. Having a specialist accountant on board can free up your time to focus on what you do best, providing a first-class service for your clients and growing your business.”

It’s clearly not part of the job that they relish, with over a third (35%) describing it as a necessary evil, while one in ten (10%) said ‘I really don’t like it” and one in 20 (5%) said they ‘hate it’.

And they have far better things they could be doing with their time. Over a third (37%) would rather spend that time with their family, almost a fifth (19%) would prefer to be learning a new skill, over a sixth (17%) would rather be travelling and over a seventh (15%) would prefer socialising.

How SJD Accountancy can help 

At SJD, we're experts when it comes to contractor accounts. Our knowledgeable accountants are able to save you time by taking your accounts off your hands. For more information, or to join SJD Accountancy, you can call our best advice team on 01442 330820

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