If you are a self-employed contractor in the UK, you may find it hard to claim for expenses on your tax returns but there are a couple of ways in which you can change that. The first way is to make yourself a limited company as limited companies are permitted to claim for expenses. The other way is to become part of what are known as umbrella companies. If you become part of an umbrella company, it will show that you are employed by that company and so you will then also be permitted to claim expenses. You can learn more here but basically as a limited company you will probably be able to claim more expenses than you can as part of an umbrella company but the problem with being a limited company is that you will have to undertake extra paperwork in order to maintain that status. Being a part of an umbrella company on the other hand, reduces the amount of paperwork you have to do. You will have to pay the umbrella company a fee in order for them to list you as an employee of theirs but once you have done so, it will be their responsibility to pay your workers, based on the weekly worksheets you submit to them. As your employer the umbrella company will also create all invoices on your behalf and collect payments in regard to those invoices. Having made a collection the umbrella company will take out any fees which they are due and then place the rest in your bank account and so of course they will require your bank details. The fact that the umbrella company pays your workers and looks after your invoices, makes these umbrella companies very popular with contractors as most contractors prefer not to have to be hassled with that type of paperwork, they just want to get on with any job in hand. Not having to be tied to a desk doing paperwork also means that a contractor has more time available to go out and find more work and so they can therefore make more money apart from the extra money they will make from claiming expenses.
As mentioned, becoming a limited company may lead to being able to make more claims for expenses, even than if you are part of an umbrella company but most contractors prefer the umbrella company choice as it also relieves them of paperwork. Many contractors would rather make a few claims less providing it that means that they can forget about having to do a lot of paperwork. Even if a contractor were to hire their own professional accountant, although that would allow them to pass on paperwork to them, it would not alone be enough to enable them to make the extra claims for expenses and so would have to become a limited company or part of a larger company to make those claims anyway. With being part of a larger company though, there is probably no need to hire any other accountant as the umbrella company does the administration work.