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What are the issues?

  1. Complexity:

The requirements the Government places on microbusinesses can be very onerous. Its contractual frameworks in particular, can be very complex and inflexible for individual contractors working in Government. Many contractors also need insurances with unnecessarily large liability requirements.

Freelancers looking to collaborate as a consortium may also need to meet high minimum capital requirements, as well as rules designed for much larger businesses.

    2. Security Clearance:

Sensitive Government roles, particularly within the Ministry of Defence, rightly require individuals to be security cleared. Unfortunately, despite policies guaranteeing a level playing field, freelancers without previous Government experience often find it difficult to get security clearance.

What are the effects?

Ultimately, when the Government struggles with procurement for its projects, it’s often the taxpayer who loses out. Procurement problems not only put Government revenue at risk; by failing to broaden their contractor talent pool, Government departments also make themselves less efficient and lose out on the flexibility and skills that only freelancers can offer.

What we are doing:

We are calling for four key steps to tackle these issues:

  • Consultation - The Government should establish a forum to review how ‘Personal Service Companies’ are engaged by the public sector.
  • Break up Government contracts - The Government should make sure it takes full advantage of the potential of the freelance workforce by using a quarter of its 33 per cent SME spend on micro-businesses, including freelancer collaborations.
  • Simplification - The Government should start publishing its tender documents in an open source format. This would allow microbusinesses to suggest revisions and make the bidding process less complex and onerous.
  • Accountability - To promote accountability, large ‘tier 1’ contractors should start publishing details of who they contract with.