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Freelancer confidence drops despite pay rates remaining strong

Freelance workers' confidence has taken a hit, with some blaming Brexit and government policy.
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Confidence amongst the freelancer community has plummeted to the lowest level on record, as a result of Brexit and government policy, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).

In a survey, 19 per cent of freelancer respondents expressed confidence in their business performance over the coming year, which represents a decrease of nine per cent compared to the previous quarter. Around 52 per cent of all respondents said that their confidence had decreased.

Freelancers attributed their confidence concerns to government policy relating to taxation, regulatory constraints, and 69 per cent cited a prediction that there will be a major slowdown in the UK economy. Around 92 per cent of freelancers expect business costs to increase over the coming year, with just four per cent expecting them to decrease.

On a more positive note, freelancers were working for 83 per cent of their time, and day rates pf pay remained strong in the second quarter of the year.

Andrew Burke, dean of Trinity Business School, Dublin, and chair of the Centre for Research on Self-Employment, said: “Freelancers have never been convinced that the UK economy would avoid any major negative consequences from Brexit. That view is now held more widely than ever. Freelancers accurately predicted the slowdown of the economy in 2017, therefore their rapidly dwindling confidence in the UK economy over the next 12 months is somewhat alarming. 

“The managerial, professional and technology-based freelancers in this survey are in a position to observe the early indicators of a slowing economy as they are typically contracted on projects involving business growth, innovation, technological change and entrepreneurship. They are clearly observing their business clients scaling down plans for firm growth and innovation. These findings are very concerning indeed.”   

There are around two million freelancers in the UK, with 1.77m working freelance in their main jobs, and 234,000 working freelance in their second jobs.

Between 2008 and 2016 the number individuals classified as a freelancer grew by 43 per cent.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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