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Brexit and Freelancer Tax deals double blow for UK’s freelance workforce new research highlights

44% of all self-employed workers think that Brexit will have a negative impact on their business, compared to just 8% who think the impact will be positive, with the younger generation feeling most concerned.  In addition, one in eight limited company workers are planning to stop freelancing and contracting when the off-payroll reforms come into effect in April 2020.

These are just some of the findings from a collaborative survey conducted by professional membership body the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) and cloud accounting software provider FreeAgent amongst 500 self-employed freelancers and contractors.

Other Brexit key findings revealed:

  • 61% of self-employed people under 30, and 58% of people aged 31 to 40 think Brexit will result in fewer opportunities for their business.
  • Just 29% of people aged 61+ shared the same concerns.
  • 13% of all self-employed workers are looking for freelance work overseas in anticipation of a negative Brexit impact.
  • 12% are considering closing down their businesses.

Commenting on the findings, Julia Kermode, chief executive of FCSA said: “If the impending losses from the self-employed pool due to concerns over the impact of Brexit were not significant enough, the additional loss of at least 13% of the limited company group of workers who have already decided to quit freelancing and contracting in the UK come April 2020 when the off-payroll reforms hit will have a further impact on the UK plc’s access to the necessary skills to weather the country’s ongoing uncertainty.  The very workers who traditionally prop up the economy in uncertain times will simply not be there in sufficient numbers.

“From our respondents we know that 67% have been in business for under five years.  They are the new generation of agile entrepreneurs with all the skills we need in the future and 82% are male, those who work in STEM occupations where the UK already has a shortfall of skills – we cannot afford to lose them.  Our country is going through some tough times just now and the working landscape for our flexible talent does not look particularly rosy – our Government needs to acknowledge that freelancers and contractors are key to our economy and need help, reassurance and certainty.”

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, added: “It’s clear from our research that many freelancers and contractors across the country are worried about the impact that leaving the European Union will have on the UK. But in addition to having to prepare for potential hardships that Brexit could place on the economy – and, in turn, their own businesses – they are also facing the additional challenge of proposed changes to off-payroll legislation. 

“Time and again policy makers continue to ignore the fact that the self-employed have none of the employment rights or the security that comes with permanent employment. They seem to be intent on crippling what is a very important and growing part of the UK economy, at a time when the wider economic impact of Brexit will potentially leave many of these businesses at risk.

“I believe we need to be nurturing and encouraging this sector and, in particular, the younger cohort of the UK’s freelancers and contractors. They are the generation of business owners who have the skills and drive we need to be successful as a nation, regardless of when – or if – Brexit takes place.”