This time of the year always gives us a chance to reflect on the past 12 months. And suffice it to say, 2015 has been a huge success. It has been a year that has seen IPSE and the world of self-employment go from strength to strength.
IPSE has achieved much in the past year. Our manifesto, introduced ahead of the General Election, has been a triumph, with the Government taking on and developing many of our ideas – such as a Small Business Commissioner for the UK, a review into self-employment and the National Infrastructure Commission. A huge amount of effort went into developing policies which will benefit both people who work for themselves and the wider economy.
At the same time freelancers are still having to contend with uncertainty about their working status. Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement there were rumours in the press that our sector could find its very existence undermined. We put forward your concerns to Government, as did hundreds of you, our members, through letters sent to your local MPs.
This coordinated action made a difference and the Government told us they will take more time to find a solution which protects the Exchequer and improves fairness in the system without creating disproportionate burdens on business, or widening the scope of the rules. We will continue to press policy makers to hold them to this pledge, but I’d like to thank all of you who contacted their MP or took part in any of our surveys in the past few months. It was your support that made it possible for IPSE to represent you so strongly. This demonstrates that IPSE’s voice can be and is heard by the Government and I urge you to encourage your fellow contractors to become IPSE members to add their voice to yours – we will shortly announce a revamped ‘Introduce a Friend’ scheme which will help you to do this.
We also launched the Centre for Research on Self-Employment an international think tank that will become the global authority on self-employment. It is widely recognised that the self-employed have an important impact on modern economies, but they constitute a sector that is often misunderstood and misrepresented. We are striving to deepen our understanding of the people we represent, and this new international think tank will go a long way in supporting that. It’s not just been a groundbreaking year from a policy viewpoint – we also took home three of the top prizes at this year’s Trade Association Awards, including Trade Association of the Year and the Event of the year, for National Freelancers Day 2014. The judges that day described IPSE as a “force to be reckoned with”.
Which brings me on to our flagship event of the year: National Freelancers Day 2015 – our annual event which celebrates those who take the brave step to work as independent professionals. It’s always great to see so many people who love working as a freelancer. From being your own boss to having the freedom to choose your hours and the clients you work for, there are many reasons to take the leap into the world of freelancing. The event was a huge success. Many congratulations to our two winners this year – Paul Allington and Kelly Gilmour-Grassam. They are both worthy winners who embody everything we want to recognise with these awards.
There has been a structural change in the UK’s labour market over the past few years. Self-employment is a career path that is becoming more enticing than ever before. And this year has made one thing perfectly clear: the 4.5 million self-employed workers love what they do, and they are here to stay.