Business development · 20 December 2017

Scaling up not a new year’s resolution for majority of freelancers and contractors

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Only 25 per cent of freelancers plan to scale up next year

Seven in ten freelancers and independent contractors plan to remain one-man businesses, and not scale their enterprises in 2018 and beyond, according to recent research.

In a poll of more than 600 freelancers and contractors from around the UK, tax specialists Qdos Calculator and The Qdos Group found that 70 per cent intend to continue operating as a one-person venture for the foreseeable future.

Surprisingly, only 25 per cent said they hoped to scale their business in 2018, with the remaining five per cent of respondent freelancers and contractors stating “other” aims, such as becoming employed or retiring.

Commenting on the data, CEO at Qdos Contractor, Seb Maley, said that in 2018, government policy needed to reflect the fact that a large of proportion of UK freelancers and contractors had little intention of growing their businesses.

Read more: Two-thirds of freelancers want reformed tax system for self-employed

Maley added: “There is a misconception that in time many freelancers and contractors intend to grow their businesses into large companies. This simply isn’t true, and is reflected by the vast majority of independent workers who plan to continue working as one-person enterprises in 2018 and onwards.

“Given that large numbers of freelancers have no interest in scaling their company, it’s time for a tax system that works in favour of those risking more, working individually and without many statutory employment benefits.”

The survey also asked freelancers and contractors the age at which they hoped to retire. Some 48 per cent said between the ages 61 and 70, 35 per cent said between the ages of 51 and 60, and 10 per cent said they thought they’d be aged 70 or more.

Only one per cent of freelancers and contractors had the intention of retiring below the age of 40, whereas six per cent wanted to end their career between the ages of 41 and 50.

“That almost half of independent workers hope to retire close to the UK retirement age suggests that freelancing and contracting is a sustainable career choice,” Maley went on to say.

“Despite the clear challenges of working without employer’s pension contributions, freelancers can in many cases command day rates to stop working at a similar age to the average UK employee.”

Earlier this year, another survey revealed the aspects of independent working that freelancers and contractors found most challenging, with lack of job security coming out on top.

Dealing with HMRC and navigating through the complicated tax system was also considered a major challenge, whilst almost half of Britain’s freelancers and contractors struggled to maintain a stable business this year.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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