Election time is upon us. Despite Theresa May’s early protestations when she took up the post as Prime Minister, millions will now be heading to their polling booths on 8 June. Incidentally, this date also happens to be National Freelancers Day (NFD), which celebrates the most enterprising types of business in the UK.
The past few months have been somewhat of a rollercoaster for IPSE and the snap general election is just one part of it. Our research shows that the confidence of the UK’s two million freelancers has fallen to the second lowest level on record.
In the first quarter of the year, just 28% of freelancers expressed confidence in their business performance. A decrease of 9 percentage points compared to the first quarter in 2016. Alarmingly, 42% of respondents said their confidence in their business prospects had also fallen.
The two prime factors driving these worryingly low levels of freelancers’ confidence were Brexit and government policy. It is a concern to see freelancers’ confidence in their business so low in the run up to the general election.
We recently saw the U-turn of the planned NICs increase and we hope the new government, whatever the outcome of the election, implements measures to support the self-employed, rather than hinder them.
Brexit has clearly been the dominating factor in this election, but we at IPSE are keen the government does not forget about the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed. Not only have we asked each of the major parties what their message to the self-employed is, we have released our own manifesto – A Contract with the Self-Employed, and every candidate of the major parties will receive their own copy of this.
We officially launched our manifesto, which details the policies we want to see the incoming government adopt, on 24 May. Policies include calls for a statutory definition of self-employment, a strategic review of the tax system, the need to improve pension provisions and provide fairer parental benefits.
Self-employed people are flexible and mobile, the world is their office, and Brexit should not change this. We want the new government to deliver a Brexit deal that delivers a trading relationship with the EU that does not create undue barriers for business.
The next two years are likely to be big for the self-employed as regulations and taxes, including NICS and IR35, continue to sit high on the next government’s agenda. And IPSE will certainly be at the forefront, ensuring that the self-employed are supported all the way.
The general election coincides with IPSE's National Freelancers Day. For the ninth year running we will be celebrating independent professionals and their success in industries across the board.
We will be hosting a day of masterclasses, seminars and workshops on maximising your rates, working in a post-Brexit world and many other fascinating and invaluable sessions at King’s Place in central London. The day will conclude with a special ceremony, where we will be announcing the winners of this year’s Freelancer of the Year awards.
Aside from the general election and NFD, IPSE is delighted to have recently announced a brand new partnership with Uber. This is the first partnership of its kind and will mean UK drivers using the Uber app can now access a range of IPSE membership benefits. These include sickness and injury cover, jury service cover and access to free advice and support.
We have worked hard to develop and offer a membership to this growing sector of self-employment and we are delighted to welcome the thousands of Uber partner drivers to the IPSE community. As well as the membership benefits, drivers will be part of the UK’s largest voice dedicated to supporting the self-employed community.
IPSE is also excited to announce a new partnership with Close Brothers. Close Brothers are one of the leading providers of financial education and advice, and through the partnership our members will be able to access a wide range of services. Members can access services for areas such as budgeting, debt, tax planning, savings, pension, wills and estate planning.
And that’s not all. We have recently signed another exclusive partnership with Contractor Mortgages Made Easy (CMME). CMME specialise in providing mortgage and financial advice for independent professionals and the self-employed. Freelancers and contractors have very specific financial needs and we know we can rely on CMME to provide our members with expert advice.
Every new partnership IPSE secures increases our voice and helps us to continue to represent and support the self-employed.
Here’s to an important and exciting few months!