Brexit: What effect is it having on freelancers?
It has been three months since Britain decided to sever its ties with the European Union, but lots of us are still unclear exactly what that means and what effect it will have on us in the future.
While many British businesses grapple with Brexit’s consequences, the self-employed people who service them are in a state of limbo.
September did bring some positive signs for Britain’s flexible labour force and experts now suggest that some of the more apocalyptic Brexit scenarios are unlikely. But the black cloud of Brexit and the legacy of so-called ‘Project Fear’ still loom large over freelancers’ heads.
The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) employment data, which includes the post-Brexit month of July as well as May and June, was positive.
The number of self-employed workers in the UK increased in this period, to 4.76 million. Levels of employment increased in other areas, too, meaning that the UK enjoyed its best employment levels since records began.
Many worry, however, that the real Brexit bombshell has not yet been fired. The next months and years will provide plenty of opportunities for market confidence to fall and employment to take a hit.
As veteran freelancers will know, the self-employed are often hit hardest by market downturns.
Freelancers that work in Europe, or for European companies in the UK might also be in line to take a hit. And freelancers in ‘at risk’ industries and sectors like banking may also be worried about the outcome of any Brexit talks.
Frustratingly, a lot of this is speculation at this stage. And our negotiators don’t look like giving much away.
But what does a positive Brexit look like for freelancers anyway? The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) have an idea. The freelancer membership organisation has communicated its Brexit priorities to the government.
Their top priority for IPSE, like a lot of business organisations, is maintaining access to the European single market as well as building trade links with other major economies worldwide.
Their second priority highlights one of the benefits of leaving the EU and encourages the government to start removing the burdens of regulation on small businesses in the UK.
Other priorities include more infrastructure and better tax system. Here are the six key points:
- Ensure continued access to the single market and embrace global free trade
- Remove the burden of regulation on small business
- Build infrastructure to support growth
- Reform taxation for a more flexible economy
- Champion self-employment as a career choice
- Respect views across the United Kingdom
You can read IPSE’s full Brexit plan here.