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Tue November 24 2020

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Payroll firm turns over £1.4bn: does this make it a top 10 contractor?

8 Oct Hudson Contract, bookkeeper to the industry’s self-employed, saw its turnover reach nearly £1.4bn in the last financial year.

Hudson managing director Ian Anfield delivered a £10.5m grant claim to CITB in February in 40 boxes
Hudson managing director Ian Anfield delivered a £10.5m grant claim to CITB in February in 40 boxes

With its financial year ending on 5th April 2020, the accounts of Hudson Contract were largely unaffected by the Covid-19 crisis, which began to bite at the back-end of March when lockdown was called.

The 2020 accounts for Hudson Contract Ltd show turnover up 8% to £1,382m (2019:£1,279m). It made a pre-tax profit on this of £11.1m (2019: £10.2m).

Hudson Contract Limited began trading on 30th March 2018 ‘to enhance compliance with onshore employment intermediaries legislation’. It took over the payroll activities formerly conducted by Hudson Contract Services Limited, which still exists as a subsidiary of Hudson Contract Limited.

Hudson Contract Services Ltd is being chased by the Construction Industry Training Board for £27,403,993 for three years of unpaid levy contributions from between April 2015 to March 2018.

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Hudson Contract Services contends that it should not have to pay the levy. It contends that it is not an employer in the construction industry because neither it nor its direct employees carry out any actual construction work, and nor does it take any construction risk.

However, the courts disagree, ruling that the 20,000 or so self-employed construction operatives on its books must be regarded as direct employees, making the company liable for the CITB levy. Hudson has twice appealed this ruling and has now twice been turned down, most recently in March 2020. It is now seeking permission to appeal this to the Supreme Court.

Hudson escalated the dispute with the CITB by delivering a £10.5m grant claim to the CITB in 40 cardboard boxes, saying that it it was liable for the levy then it was due grants too.

If Hudson Contract is to be considered a construction company, rather than a firm of accountants handling the books of 72,000 self-employed subcontractors, then a turnover of nearly £1.4bn would put it close to the top 10 UK construction contractors, somewhere between Wates and Willmott Dixon in size.

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