Interestingly, the Labour party has started saying it must reach out to self-employed, with their “Red Shift” group believing the party is doomed to failure unless it adapts to the new world of working people. They have acknowledged that the world of work has dramatically altered with increasing number of people choosing to work flexibly, naming “mum-preneurs” and Uber drivers as examples. We will be monitoring to see whether this “Red Shift” movement gathers momentum and delivers Labour policies that will truly support the self-employed.
Of course, most politicians wax lyrical about the value of the flexible workforce. Sajid Javid in particular delivered a resounding inaugural speech extoling the virtues of entrepreneurs, and confirmed what we already knew – that economic recovery is not attributable to politics but the hard work of individuals.
And yet, despite political recognition, we are now faced with a barrage of initiatives that have the potential to significantly impact on the same hardworking individuals that Government claim to support. All of us involved in supporting freelancers and contractors are spending the summer unpicking the nuances of the onslaught, deciphering technicalities to establish the true impact of proposals on the workforce. Earlier today I felt defeated by it all, and started to wonder what the point is. Why bother?
Because the UK’s flexible workforce is IMPORTANT
Because the UK’s flexible workforce CONSTITUTES 20% OF WORKERS
Because the UK’s flexible workforce ENABLES BUSINESSES TO BE AGILE
Because the UK’s flexible workforce is ESSENTIAL TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Because the UK’s flexible workforce is MISUNDERSTOOD BY GOVERNMENT
Ultimately, it is the misunderstanding that I care about. I believe that Government does value the flexible workforce, at least the MPs I meet with certainly do. However, the reality is that there are many complexities within our sector and the mechanics of engaging the flexible workforce are not straight forward. It can be difficult enough for so-called “experts” to grasp the finer points, let alone MPs and civil servants. So that leaves us to educate and help them understand.
We all have a responsibility to use the raft of opportunities to point out unintended consequences, even if it seems like hard work and that we are repeating the usual messages. Otherwise, we risk endangering the very workforce which is so important to UK prosperity and our future.
Written by Julia Kermode, CEO