BREXIT and an alarming drop in income have led to a sharp fall in freelancers’ confidence in the UK economy, according to new research by IPSE and PeoplePerHour (PPH) - an online marketplace for freelancers to get work.
Although the economic confidence of the UK’s two million freelancers improved marginally in the last quarter – after record-low levels in Q2 – it has now fallen again because of Brexit and a 17 per cent decline in both quarterly earnings and daily rates. The study suggests this is expected to be exacerbated by an increase in their business costs in 2018.
These significant decreases are compounded further by a drop – to the lowest levels on record – in the amount of time freelancers spent working during each quarter.
The research also highlighted that freelancers’ confidence in the wider UK economy continues to fall and now stands at the second lowest level on record, with 70 per cent saying they are less optimistic about the performance of the UK economy over the next 12 months.
Professor Andrew Burke, dean of Trinity Business School, Dublin, said: “The freelancers who completed this survey are professional, highly skilled, and involved in projects which drive growth and innovation. As a result, they are very well placed to foresee economic and business trends. Their consistent lack of confidence is therefore deeply concerning.
“Freelancers are particularly concerned this quarter because they experienced their second successive reduction in earnings – after a 13 per cent drop in Q3. They see the government’s policies on Brexit, taxation and the regulation of freelance work as the main factors that have had a detrimental effect on the freelance sector.”
Suneeta Johal, head of research, education and training at IPSE, added: “Brexit has consistently been cited as a significant factor behind freelancers’ lack of confidence.
“But with inflation rising over the quarter it is unsurprising that freelancers also stated that they expect their business costs to rise. Ultimately, this means that freelancers expect their finances to feel squeezed throughout 2018.”