HR · 10 May 2017

Freelancer confidence plummets as self-employed demand more control

Freelancers are a great way of upping you company's output while not having to take on full-time staff
Government policy and Brexit are causes of concern for freelancers

The confidence of Britain’s two million-strong freelancer population has reached its lowest ever level, with just 28 per cent feeling positive about business growth in the next 12 months.

Published by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), the headline score from the body’s freelancer confidence index, for the first three months of 2017, has dropped nine per cent from the same period last year.

As many as 42 per cent of freelancers, when responding to an IPSE survey, revealed that their confidence in their business has decreased.

Government policy towards freelancers and self-employed workers, as well as disruptions and concerns caused by Brexit, were cited as having the greatest negative impact on business confidence.

Commenting on the index figures, head of the IPSE, Chris Bryce, said: “It is a concern to see freelancers’ confidence in their businesses is so low.

“We recently saw the U-turn of the planned national insurance contributions (NICs) increase and we would hope the new government, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election, announce measures to support, rather than hinder, the self-employed.

Bryce added that maintaining a fairer NIC framework would be a top demand of freelancers following the general election, as would the simplification of the Making Tax Digital initiative. He also said that handing more power over to the small business commissioner would help “alleviate” freelancer confidence.

Despite the negative general outlook, the statistics showed that freelancers’ confidence in their own businesses were significantly higher than that in the wider economy. Overall, freelancers were 19 per cent more confidence in their own venture than in the general economic environment.

Earlier this year, the IPSE, which represents Britain’s freelancers and self-employed, called for a statutory definition of self-employment to end confusion about who is and who isn’t a freelancer or self-employed in the UK.

The body has urged government to guarantee freelancers and self-employed workers a greater element of control over their employment arrangements.

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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.