Summary

  • Access to the appropriate infrastructure is imperative to the success of any economy, and the self-employed particularly benefit from strong infrastructure
  • Workhubs are flexible workspaces for microbusinesses and mobile workers, typically consisting of “hot desks”, meeting rooms and high speed broadband.
  • They also offer services such as IT and business support and other training programmes
  • IPSE believes that workhubs require more support, promotion and encouragement from government so that more independent workers can benefit from using them
  • The Government is considering exempting work hubs and shared workspaces from business rates, a policy first proposed by IPSE’s manifesto. IPSE wants to see the policy implement to enable the growth of workhubs.

Why are workhubs important?

  • Workhubs are a vital part of the small business landscape.
  • Many go beyond simple office space providers and offer collaborative, supportive community environment for freelancers and the self-employed.
  • Some offer services such as IT and business support and training programmes as well as networking events and other opportunities to share skills with like-minded freelancers.
  • Importantly, workhubs also provide a place for collaboration between independent professionals
  • In this environment they can network, share ideas and develop new projects, leading to the creation of new businesses.

What issues do workhubs face?

  • It is often difficult and financially prohibitive to open and run workhub premises
  • Out of an estimated 109 workhubs , 30% of these are in London
  • There is a lack of appropriate facilities across large swathes of the UK – especially rural areas. Where such a facilities do exist they are often oversubscribed.
  • The high cost of running workhubs often translates into a high price for using them, deterring young freelancers and new entrants to self-employment – the very people who are likely to benefit most from the supportive environment workhubs offer.
  • One-third of 18-39 year olds identify cost as a major reason why they do not use workhubs
  • Small businesses with premises are exempt from paying business rates, yet those using workhubs are effectively forced to pay them indirectly through business rates

Make better use of Workhubs

  • We believe the Government should cut business rates for workhubs – businesses with a rentable value up to £10,000 are eligible for 100% business rates relief. The Government is currently considering this issue and IPSE is working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure this happens.
  • Local authorities should incentivise the use of empty properties as workhubs
  • Council should consider extending Permitted Development rights to allow empty premises to change their use – gradually extend permitted development (PD) rights to larger buildings
  • The Government should support rural workhubs by backing the rollout of Rural Enterprise Hubs