Industry Intel

An idea for expanding the potential of contract working

Jamie Vear-Altog

Managing Consultant

Jul 19, 2022

Historically contract working within the planning sector has been typically associated with temporary/contract opportunities in local, regional, or central government. Seldom is contracting associated with the private sector.

Could this be because firms worry that they would be effectively giving an independent planning consultant access to their clients? Potentially. But far too many private consultancies turn away projects because they do not have the capacity to take on additional work.

With the introduction of IR35 making contracting for local authorities less attractive, contractors are crying out for an opportunity to put Personal Service Companies (PSCs) – and thus their skills – to better use.

Almost all private sector work is project-based, whether it’s producing and submitting applications, assisting with the production of documents for a local/neighbourhood plan, consulting on the eligibility and likelihood of a development proposal being adopted, or dealing with an appeal.

Naturally, project-based work fluctuates through the year and a temporary increase in work may not justify employing a full-time staff member.

Accordingly, they could instead continue to service clients by bringing in a contractor and potentially earning a margin on work that they would otherwise have passed on.

Oysters’ contractors come with extensive experience in the fundamental disciplines of development management, enforcement, and planning policy, and across almost every local planning authority in the country.

Contractors may also be able to fill specific specialism gaps for the duration of a project, rather than consultancies needing to invest in full-time resources for a part-time demand.

Having specialised in the recruiting of planners into the public sector for a number of years, I have a natural fondness for local planning authorities and thus an understanding of the stresses and difficulties that come from tackling resourcing issues.

So I’d like to present this idea to you: alongside opening the thought of contractors into the private sector, might local planning authorities make more of the potential for their own staff to work in contractor roles for the private sector? Many authorities have exceptional planners – perhaps their skills and experience could be seconded out to the private sector, thus encouraging multi-disciplinary experience and promoting revenue generation for the Council?

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have, and if you need help with a temporary resourcing shortage, I am confident I can help!

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Managing Consultant

Jamie Vear-Altog

Jamie brings over six years of recruitment experience to the table. Having started out at Oyster on the Town Planning team, Jamie then moved across and started a new team for Oyster, Engineering. Spanning Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, the Engineering team has very quickly become the go-to recruitment team in the industry, and that’s mostly down to Jamie’s quiet perseverance and determination. He’s not a man who’s easily swayed.

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