General Election 2024: Championing the self-employed

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The General Election is here. For IPSE, it’s an opportunity to get the issues that really matter to those who work for themselves in front of all the parties. We will shortly be launching our 2024 manifesto and we are very grateful to all the members that have fed into that work at our member meet-ups and virtual discussions.

We have a clear set of asks on IR35, better oversight of HMRC, a fairer deal for self-employed parents and a range of other issues. There are 4.3 million self-employed votes up for grabs, so the parties should be in listening mode.

It's fair to say this government has not been universally loved by the self-employed. Probably its two biggest legacies for contractors will be the big gaps in support during Covid – particularly for limited company directors – and the introduction of the IR35 changes in the private sector which have destroyed otherwise perfectly viable businesses. It’s not the record we would have hoped to see from the so-called ‘Party of Business’.

The state of the parties

As election launches go, it was inauspicious. The Prime Minister stood in the pouring rain with ‘things can only better’ – the New Labour theme tune from 1997 – blaring in the background. The optics were not exactly good for Rishi Sunak. The gloomy weather currently mirroring his party’s position in the polls – they are 21 points behind Labour. The Conservatives have a mountain to climb and with this launch, they’ve seemingly got off to a slow start. Can they turn things around? It’s just about possible but they need to start listening to voters, including those who work for themselves.

Labour on the other hand represent something of the unknown. They were the original architects of IR35 in 1999 which led to PCG, now IPSE, being formed in direct opposition to the policy. However, they voted against implementation of the 2021 private sector reforms and they have been going out of their way to present themselves as pro-business in the lead up to this campaign. They have also indicated they want to address employment status rules. If they do that, and get it right, it could be great news for legitimate self-employed businesses and their clients.

The Liberal Democrats have tended to be supportive of those who work for themselves. We have good links with the Party and we will certainly be pushing our agenda there – possibly at an open door – but it remains to be seen how much of impact they will have on this election. Let’s not forget, the Party has not performed well in the last three.

Scotland is always important at every election. Arguably it will be even more so at this one. Labour have lost huge ground to the SNP over the last decade but the polls suggest that trend will be dramatically reversed. The fact that this election will be held during the Scottish school holidays – which SNP leader John Swinney was quick to point out – could also have an impact.

Small parties could make their biggest impact yet

The smaller parties are interesting too. The Greens are well placed to have a good campaign. The issues they are most closely aligned with are more mainstream than ever before and they did well in the local elections in May.

Reform are the relative newcomers but they seem determined to have an impact with their leader Richard Tice committed to standing a candidate in every seat. They will likely take votes away from the Conservatives and, notably, they are the only party to commit to scrapping the IR35 reforms. But unlike the bigger parties, they still have lots of candidates to select and the surprise announcement yesterday may have caught them on their heels.

Get involved

The timing of this election has caught many by surprise. It was widely expected to be held later in the year, potentially after a few more months of lowering inflation and possibly even an interest rate cut or two. Quite why the Prime Minister has decided to push the button now, rather than wait for more evidence of an improving economy, is not known.

Nonetheless, IPSE is ready and we will be presenting our manifesto to all the parties. We will also be asking you, our members, to share it with your local candidates. As the campaign progresses, we'll be outlining our key asks for the next government in more detail over on LinkedIn - be sure to subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter 'Freelancing in Focus' for more.


IPSE fights for what is right for you and your business. We campaign to Government and industry leaders to build a better world so you can grow your business and be happy and healthy in your everyday life.

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Meet the author

Andy Chamberlain

Director of Policy and External Affairs