CEO Update – July: NFD, lockdowns, tackling the post-IR35 mess and more
- 2 Jul 2021
The past month has been a difficult one for the self-employed, even in these already challenging times. More contractors are being pushed into working through unregulated umbrella companies because of the changes to IR35, and the delay to the end of restrictions to 19th July was another blow – especially to freelancers working in the events and creative industries.
At IPSE, we have been working hard to advise and support our members through these challenges. We are also campaigning hard to not only push back against damaging government measures like proposals for self-employed tax hikes, but also to make the business landscape work for freelancers and the self-employed.
In particular, we are gearing up our campaigns for effective regulation of umbrella companies and also for a full review and reform of the tax system to make it fair for freelancers and employees alike. But to do this and keep our voice loud in government, we need your support – and the support of more freelancers and self-employed people like you. That’s why, this summer, as we approach ‘Freedom Day’, we’re launching a 15 per cent discount on IPSE membership: so please consider joining IPSE and, if you’re already a member, spread the word – and help us protect your freedom to freelance.
NFD and IPSE events: support and advice for the self-employed
Earlier in June, we held our hugely successful 2021 National Freelancers Day, our annual celebration of the world of freelancing. This year was our second-ever virtual NFD, and it was also our biggest-ever event with nearly 400 registered attendees, 41 speakers and 29 different sessions. The theme this year was preparing for a post-pandemic world, with talks, workshops and more on the three key themes of wellbeing, winning work and finances. We also had brilliant keynote sessions from broadcaster Lliana Bird and Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay, as well as a policy panel featuring the Financial Times’s Claer Barrett.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the day. Now, with National Freelancers Day 2021 behind us, we’re looking forward to the 2021 IPSE Freelancer Awards. Nominations are now open until 6th August, so I encourage you to get involved and put yourself forward. We’re also now back to our regular programme of webinars, focusing on the issues that matter most to our members. Our member-backed policy and research committee continues to grow, and this week also saw the return of our monthly IPSE member meet-up, an opportunity for members to share thoughts, advice and experiences and generally connect with the IPSE community. The meet-up was fully booked, so I encourage you to book early for next month.
From insights to action: research on taxes, IR35 and more
Our research is vital to the work we do to inform government, media and others about the issues affecting the way you and the rest of the freelance community work. In fact, the research that many of you took part in on government proposals about when freelancers pay their taxes will directly influence HMRC decision-making later this month when we send the finished research to them. Thank you if you took part in this and please do help with other surveys we put out.
June also saw the publication of our report on freelancers’ mental health and how it has been affected by the pandemic over the last year. It’s already led to new connections with mental health charities and been published in the national press along with tips and advice on how freelancers can improve their mental health.
There is also plenty more to come from our research team – on the impact of Covid, IR35 and more: so watch this space.
Your voice in government and the media
IPSE continues to push your cause in government on a host of different issues. This month, we attended the Prompt Payment Code Compliance Board, where we continue to push for a stricter clampdown on late payment to protect freelancers’ cashflow. We also joined a meeting of the government’s ‘SME Action Group’, chaired by business minister Paul Scully – where we discussed some of the biggest challenges facing freelancers and small businesses more widely.
We continue to campaign hard on IR35 and employment issues too. Earlier in the month, our Policy Director Andy Chamberlain spoke at the Business Forum International event on IR35, making the case against blanket ‘inside IR35’ assessments to an audience of businesses.
We are also trying to deal with the mess left by government after the changes to IR35: particularly the fact that an increasingly large number of contractors are now reluctantly having to work through unregulated umbrella companies. The government recently reiterated its commitment to regulate the umbrella company sector through a new ‘single enforcement body’; we will hold them to this and continue to gather evidence of your experiences working in umbrella companies and make sure they are heard at the highest levels of government.
As the economy continues to open up – albeit somewhat belatedly – it’s an exciting time for the freelance and self-employed community. We know there are still big challenges for our members and for self-employed people everywhere, but there are also new opportunities on the horizon. We’re here to be your voice to overcome the challenges, to support you through the difficult times and help you get ready to take advantage of those opportunities. To keep doing that, though, we need some support ourselves. So I encourage you to help spread the word about the work of IPSE and the benefits of membership: when your friends and colleagues join IPSE it helps us protect your freedom to freelance.
Meet the author