Tax avoidance, expenses scams – welcome to the recruitment industry | Adrian Gregory

With my 30 years in recruitment I know all the tricks the agencies get up to – and it’s not pretty. The government and HMRC let them get away with it

In a recent article for this section, Faiza Shaheen described recruitment agencies as “arbiters of capitalism and the mass exploitation of workers”. As someone who has owned a recruitment agency in London for 30 years, I would endorse her view.

The recruitment industry is growing at an annual rate of 9%: an astonishing speed for a mature industry that now exceeds £35bn in annual turnover – larger than the food and drink industries – and within which 1.2 million people find work. Much of this growth is, however, easily explained. In combining aggressive tax avoidance with systematic worker exploitation, recruitment agencies are able to supply labour at prices far below the cost of direct employment by labour users. Within the industry, the culprits are widely known and, usually, highly successful.

HMRC inactivity has been the main facilitator of the recruitment industry’s care-free tax avoidance

Related: Revealed: temp agencies’ avoidance scheme costs taxpayers ‘hundreds of millions’

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