Tag Archive | "freelance"

Freelance Friendly Parties? The General Election Explained

It’s only 2 days until the UK General Election, and from what I’m hearing many freelancers and contractors are still undecided about who to vote for.

Many of the nearly 5 million self employed workers in the UK are wondering which party is concerned with the issues that affect many freelancers, contractors, gig workers, and small business owners.

Some pundits have said that a vote for the Tories might not be the best option, especially when you consider the recent tax grab they tried to get out of the self employed. Fortunately, people power won the day, and Mr Hammond backed down and decided to forget about more tax…for now.

I’m sure that many freelance professionals who normally vote Conservative might very well be thinking twice now, even to the point where they are going to vote for another party.

What are the other options though…Labour? According to some, they have been making the most “freelance friendly” noises during the campaign trail for the General Election, but if you ask me, it’s probably just a case of politicians making promises they wouldn’t keep if given the power.

One thing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to do is keep National Insurance Contributions as they are…if the nation decides to elect him as Prime Minister.

Also, he has gone on record to say that Labour would be the voice of the small business owner around the country.

He would also scrap the Making Tax Digital plans, although if recent reports are to be trusted then it seems that it’s already been forgotten about.

Not only that, but Mr Corbyn has said that companies who pay freelancers late, or don’t pay at all, should be given tougher punishments. This is something I definitely agree with and an area where more needs to be done.

However, would the Labour leader follow through with his promises if given the keys to Number 10. Something tells me he wouldn’t…although something also tells me that he won’t be Prime Minister.

Who knows though? Most people were expecting a Hilary Clinton victory over Donald Trump and look what happened there…It’s now President Trump.

Also, who can forget the Brexit vote, with many so called “experts” predicting an easy victory for remaining in Europe…nobody really saw coming what did happen, and now as we speak Britain are negotiating an exit from the European Union.

Who knows? Maybe on Friday morning we will be waking up to a victory speech from Prime Minister Corbyn, and then freelancers and contractors around the country will wait to see if he delivers on his promises.

So who should you vote for on Thursday? That choice is yours, although if you really can’t decide then you might want to stay away and not vote at all this time around.

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New Figures Suggest 176,000 Self Employed People in Wales

Wales is quickly becoming the UK hub of self employment, with 176,000 now working for themselves. That is 32% of new jobs in the country.

Many of these people are no doubt contractors, freelancers, and gig workers, while others have taken the route of starting a small business in order to make their own income.

Take Tom Maunder for example, a car body repairer from Wales who had been made redundant 3 times. After getting his P45 for a third time he decided enough was enough, and instead of looking for another job went the self employment route instead.

Actually, he ended up buying the small company from where he had been given his walking papers before, thanks to a loan from his parents and a bit of savings.

This is the type of entrepreneurship I like to see among workers in the UK. Many people in Tom’s position could have simply given up and spent the next few years signing on down the local job centre, and this is what many people do.

However, Tom decided that if employers were not prepared to give him a chance then he might as well make his own opportunities, and that is why he has gone on to be a success, with help from his family along the way.

It just goes to show that self employment in Wales is still going strong, and as long as there are people like the Maunder family then I don’t think anything is going to change soon.

Around 1 in 5 new jobs in Wales are to do with self employment, whether it be contractors, freelance professionals, or small business owners, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if in 10 years time this figure is 2 in 5 jobs…or even 50% of all new jobs.

The new figures do show that the area in Wales does matter when it comes to self employment, with towns that have historically been involved with industry having the lowest rate of people working for themselves, while areas that are more known for farming have the most.

In Powys it is said that 1 in 3 people are self employed farmers. Also, many of these rural communities in Wales have other businesses such as cafes, restaurants, and hotels, where the self employed do a great trade year after year.

Away from the town and villages we have the cities of Cardiff and Swansea, which are quickly making a name for themselves as the place to be in the UK if you want to work in freelance industries.

The cost of living in these cities in Wales is significantly lower than places like London and Birmingham, which means many gig workers are thinking about relocating to Wales.

So self employment in Wales is looking good, and things are only going to get better if you ask me.

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Over 15% of Workers in Harlow are Self Employed

According to a new survey, one in six workers from the town of Harlow in Essex are classed as self employed, with many of those being contractors.

It just goes to show that even in smaller towns around the country self employment is in full swing, where a lot of people are now deciding to get rid of a boss and start working for themselves.

Interestingly, there was similar survey conducted in Harlow around 10 years ago, where at that time the self employment percentage was below 10%. It makes you wonder what the figure will be in another 10 years time? My guess would be at least 25%.

Of course, you get more self employed workers in big cities such as London and Birmingham, but that is where a lot of contractor and freelancer jobs are to be found.

In places like Harlow the amount of opportunities is not on that kind of scale, but things are improving, especially now the internet has made it possible to work from home without having to commute to an office or place of business.

I’m sure that many self employed workers in Harlow have contracts and jobs from some very big companies, it’s just they don’t have to make the move to London in order to make a living, although some contractors might commute to the capital I’m sure.

Other towns in Essex have also witnessed a boom in the number of self employed workers. Take Colchester for example, where 10 years ago the number of people working for themselves was at 8,800. Fast forward to the present day, and according to the survey there is now 15,500 people who are classed as self employed.

Epping Forest has the most amount of self employment in Essex though, with 22% of the people there being classed as working for themselves.

There is also no doubt many public sector contractors based in the towns of Essex, although I’m sure that many of them are not impressed with the recent IR35 changes.

If reports are to be trusted, then a lot of contractors in the public sector are going to be leaving soon…following the thousands who have already packed their bags and gone elsewhere.

The good thing about self employment, either in Essex or anywhere else in the country, is that there is just so much opportunity.

As long as you have some determination and a desire to succeed, then there are many different potential avenues to pursue, whether it’s as a contractor, freelance professional, gig worker, or small business owner.

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27% Leave School With No Career Advice According to Study

Just over a quarter of Brits leave Secondary school without any kind of career advice…that is according to a new study of over 2000 adults.

This has led to a whole generation of school leavers who are unsure of the career path that is right for them, with many deciding to stay in higher education rather than joining the workforce.

It might also be part of the explanation why so many people are now joining the ranks of freelancers, gig workers and contractors, because instead of going right into a career, they now take the time to explore different options before finally deciding that working for themselves is the best way forward.

The study also went on to give us some more interesting statistics, such as:

29% of workers are considering a career change soon, with self employment being high on their list of options.

Only 10% of those surveyed believed the career advice they did get in school was impartial, with many having the opinion that teachers and other staff were biased towards certain professions.

30% did know the career they wanted to pursue when leaving school, although many do change their mind after a few years in the workforce…with freelancing and contracting being good alternatives once they become dissatisfied with their boss.

A further 45% mentioned that teachers were often pushy towards getting students to go towards a career that required a university education, despite the fact that university fees have become way more expensive in recent years. This has led some people to wonder if teachers get a commission for recommending this path.

42% also said that parents were supportive of their career path, even if they decided to change course after a few years and go into something else like self employment.

My opinion on all of this is that career advice in schools is going to become less and less relevant, as students decide to educate themselves on what career path to pursue.

Thanks to the internet, it’s now possible to research potential careers and university courses by themselves, rather than having a teacher giving the information.

Also, I think we are going to be seeing more people wait longer until they make a decision about their career.

Years ago, you were expected to know exactly what path to take by the age of 18. These days, people are waiting longer, with many deciding to go travelling and experience the world before making a decision

It’s not uncommon for a 25 year old to still be considering career options, with freelancing, gig working, and contracting being popular options once they do decide to enter the workforce.

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Bank of Ireland to Introduce Mortgages for Contractors

I’ve said it before and I will say it again…getting a mortgage if you are a contractor is tough. Most people who apply are declined, that is the reality.

Fortunately, Bank of Ireland, UK Division, want to change the way self employed people and contracting professionals are seen by the mortgage industry, and that is why they have just announced a new financial service in the marketplace.

This new mortgage service by Bank of Ireland is tailored towards self employed contractors who have been doing business for at least 12 months and have current contracts and bank account statements to verify they are earning an income.

What I have been hearing from industry insiders is that Bank of Ireland will be lending up to 90% LTV, with a minimum contracting income of £50,000 and affordability that is based on 80% of a contractors income. This has yet to be confirmed by the Bank themselves though.

While it is good to see Bank of Ireland getting into the contractor mortgage market, there is still many banks and lenders out there who don’t want anything to do with the self employed. This is despite millions of people in the UK who are now their own boss, and in many cases earn more than people who have a “traditional job.”

Yes, I do understand that mortgage lenders want to reduce their risk and only lend money they are reasonably sure can be paid back, but at the end of the day, contractors, freelancers, and the self employed in general are becoming more and more common, which means I think they have to start standing up and taking notice.

The Bank of Ireland, UK Division, have decided to do it, but how many well known banks and lenders are going follow suit? I think it could be a while until we see big brands offering mortgages to contractors on a regular basis, although at some point they will have to start taking notice as more people check the self employed box when filling in that mortgage application.

My only thought about this new mortgage service from Bank of Ireland is that 12 months trading history might not be enough time to really get a good idea about the suitability of a client.

In my opinion, 5 years is a much better indication of whether or not someone has the right income level for a mortgage or loan.

If you start making mortgage loan decisions based on 12 months worth of income in the contracting world, then we could be taking a step backwards if you ask me…back to the days when getting a mortgage was easy and lenders were approving people like money was going out of fashion.

What we are looking for here is a good balance. Easier for legitimate contractors with a good track record to get a mortgage, but no so easy that anybody with a few months of income can get a mortgage. There needs to be common sense.

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UK Population “Optimistic” About Entrepreneurship

In a recent study it was revealed that people in the UK were more optimistic about working for themselves, compared to other European countries.

These findings are no doubt going to surprise many experts, who have long been claiming that factors such as Brexit will mean less British people decide to do things like start a business, become a contractor, and get started in the gig economy. Well, according to this study the opposite is true.

Out of those asked, 44% of people in the UK said it was the best country to go down the self employed route, with 57% saying they were optimistic about the economy.

This doesn’t surprise me at all to be honest, because despite all of the negativity we keep hearing about in the news, the reality of the situation is that many Britons are hard working, ambitious, and want to work for themselves…and many won’t let anything stop them.

Sure, Brexit might cause a few problems with the economy, and yes, nothing is ever perfect…but when you are determined to succeed then nothing can stop you, and it seems that many people in the UK have this mindset.

Something tells me we are going to be alright, this nation of ours, as long as entrepreneur’s, small business owners, contractors, freelancers…they all keep pushing forward and don’t let anything or anybody stop them.

What appears to be even more encouraging is that younger people are more interested in becoming their own boss, with 76% of 18 to 24 year olds saying this is their goal. Compare this to 48% of 50 to 64 year olds, and it’s easy to see why UK economy is only going to become stronger, no matter what happens in Europe.

That isn’t to say that everyone is in support of Brexit though, as the study found that many people do have some concerns about becoming isolated from our European neighbours.

For example, 30% wondered about what our access to the single market will be like once Brexit has taken place, which of course, is very important for anyone that wants to do business with a company in Europe.

Of course, we don’t even know for sure exactly how much Britain is going to leave the European Union, so it’s difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen.

Back to the study and it was found that the 2 main reasons for wanting to become self employed were financial success (48%) and freedom and independence (47%).

You know, I hear this a lot from all you contractors, freelancers and gig workers out there…you just want to make a decent amount of money, but most importantly, you want to be your own boss and set your own schedule.

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40% of Brits will Never Retire According to Survey

In a brand new survey by experts, it was found that 40% of British people in the workforce believed they will never get to retire.

This isn’t because they don’t want to of course. No…it’s because they won’t have enough money to retire, which means they will be have to keep on working well beyond the retirement age into their 70’s and even 80’s.

In my opinion it isn’t just employed people that should be thinking about this, contractors and the self employed in general must also be planning for their retirement.

As I’ve talked about before on this blog, there are many contractors who simply don’t save any money for retirement and don’t put anything into a pension, instead, hoping to rely on the State Pension to take care of them when they get to 65.

Well, some news for anybody expecting to do this. For one, the eligible age for a State Pension is going up soon, to 67 I think, although many experts predict it could be 70 in the near future. If you still have 30 years to go until you are around retirement age where will it be then? It might very well be 80! That is if there is any such thing as a State Pension by that time.

Not only that, but a basic State Pension doesn’t provide you with much money on a weekly basis, and with everything getting more expensive it really is nothing more than spending money for most people.

That is why I am always telling contractors, gig workers, freelance professionals…whoever…you must be putting some money away into a pension or some kind of savings. If you don’t then you probably won’t ever retire, just like the 40% of people asked in the survey.

Interestingly, there was differences of opinion in the survey depending on where you lived. For example workers in London didn’t have much optimism about retiring, with 45% saying they will always be clocking in, while only 32% of people in Scotland agreed.

Maybe North of the border they know something that people in the capital don’t know? Or perhaps they are just more educated when it comes to saving money and being smart about pensions? I think that is probably right.

There are some contractors who don’t ever want to retire though, and in actual fact they would call themselves already retired.

These are the people that work from their laptop, working a few hours that suit them but using most of their time taking breaks to do things they enjoy. A good lifestyle if you can get it, but for most Britons this isn’t a reality.

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Research Shows Self Employed Work 10 Hours Less

If you thought working for an employer was the best option then it’s time to reconsider, as new research shows self employed people work 10 hours less a week.

Not only that, but the research also shows that they make £5000 more per year than the average salary, bringing in £33,000 a year compared to £27,000.

This includes umbrella contractors of course, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit as I’m always hearing stories of people who quit their job to become self employed and are now making more money working for themselves.

These statistics were all taken from the “definite study of the self employed” where 5,010 people in the UK were surveyed. Of those asked, 67% commented they were now better off financially now than when working for a boss, with 65% saying they now have more time to do the activities they want.

I’m sure they do, because when you think about it, if self employed people work 10 hours less a week, then based on a 5 day working week that is an extra 2 hours a day. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s much better to be spending time with family and friends rather than sitting at an office desk or being in traffic on the way home.

It’s also worth noting that many self employed people do work from home, or are at least based from home. This means that the commute is often no longer there, which means the time you save from working for yourself might even be more than 10 hours a week.

So why are more people than ever before starting to look at becoming self employed? When asked in the survey, 77% said they wanted more control of their work day, while 65% said the thought of being their own boss was something they liked.

Interestingly, 47% mentioned that lack of workplace politics was a motivating factor. This is something that I hear a lot, as it seems that many companies are now more like a high school drama than a place of work.

It’s much better to work on your own in my opinion, although this isn’t something that appeals to everyone. Some people would prefer to have the office politics I guess, and if that is your thing then becoming self employed might not be for you.

Although the research does show that self employed people work, on average, 10 hours less a work than people who have a job, don’t forget that it is not always like this at first. When you start working for yourself you might have to work more hours, so make sure you are aware of that.

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Theresa May Advisor Criticises the Gig Economy

We all know the gig economy is becoming popular among contractors. However, a key advisor to the prime minister doesn’t like it at all.

Matthew Taylor, who is currently the future of work advisor to Theresa May has gone on record to say that the current gig economy is going to cost the government billions of pounds over the next few years, mainly because it means contractors and self employed people in general will be paying around £2000 less in tax a year.

How has he come up with this figure you might be wondering? It all comes down to companies such as Deliveroo and Uber, where many of the freelance contractors who work for these companies pay, on average, less tax than someone who is employed and earns the same amount of money per year.

This is no doubt why people, including many in the government, are questioning the employment status of workers in the gig economy, and saying that many times someone who is self employed should actually be employed.

Well, if they pay more tax then of course you are going to say that, as it means more money for the government.

If there is one thing the government doesn’t like it is losing out on money, and that is why I think we are going to be hearing more about the gig economy and the worker status of contractors and self employed.

We’ve already seen how the taxi app Uber have come under scrutiny recently, most notably where a judge decided that some of the freelance contractors working for them should be classified as employees instead.

Recent figures show that Uber now have 40,000 self employed drivers in the UK, but it makes you wonder how long they are going to remain this way.

I’m sure if Matthew Taylor or other people in the government have anything to do with it then it won’t be long until we see the vast majority, or even all of the drivers become employees, even if this isn’t what the drivers themselves want.

Interestingly, this is coming at a time when many well known retailers and companies are now starting to adopt the Uber style self employment model. Are they wasting their time though? Especially when so many people in power seem to want an end to this kind of gig economy.

Who knows, if it turns out that most people want to become a freelance contractor in a gig economy instead of an employee and they make their voice heard, then surely the government will have to stand up and take notice.

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Minimum of £67,000 Would get Contractors to Quit

What would it get you to quit the contracting lifestyle and back into employment? A new survey found that an offer of at least £67,000 a year would do it.

For many people though, not even an offer of two or three times that amount would get them to give up on being their own boss and going to work for someone else.

When you consider that the average salary in the UK is £27,000, it just goes to show you that contractors really enjoy what they do, and it isn’t just about the money.

There are many contracting professionals that earn more than £67k a year of course, such as the ex Google employee who gave up a cushy 6 figure salary to start working for himself…and now he makes more and has more free time.

I think that is what it all comes down to at the end of the day…having more free time and doing what you want and when you want.

People that are employed and working in an office all day can’t do that, but when your office is your kitchen table and you don’t have to get out of bed until 9am, then for most self employed people even £67,000 wouldn’t be enough to get them to start commuting to work again every day.

It’s what I keep telling people all the time…most contractors really value their time and doing the things they enjoy like going to the being with family, gym, sports, travel, and hobbies. When you are self employed then you set your work around these kind of activities, rather than the other way round.

In a different survey where employed people were surveyed, 42% said they would like to start their own business or become a contracting professional within the next 5 years. This doesn’t surprise me at all, and it just goes to show how the dream of becoming your own boss is now becoming a reality for millions of UK residents.

Some experts are even saying that 50% of the UK workforce will be self employed within 10 years. You know, I think that is a bit optimistic, but the fact is that more people than ever before are deciding to go it alone…whether it be as a contractor, freelancer, gig worker or by starting a business, so I could certainly imagine a time where half of the workers are self employed.

For now though, to those of you who are self employed enjoy your more free time and less hours working, but if you did receive an offer for £67,000 tomorrow then it would certainly be a nice choice to have, although for the majority of you I think I know what the answer would be.

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Umbrella Contractors Lose £5000 a Year

According to the IPSE, umbrella contractors in the UK are losing 5 thousand pounds a year because of unpaid work.

This information has come from a survey the IPSE (Association of Independent Professional and the Self Employed) conducted recently, where they asked 946 umbrella contractors, freelancers, and general self employed workers about their experience of unpaid work.

Interestingly, the survey found that contractors in creative industries are more likely to work unpaid as opposed to contractors in tech industries.

Why are so many people working for free? Sometimes it appears that clients simply are not paying, which ultimately means they end up doing the work for free, but other times it seems the contractor agreed to do the work for free, either in a bid to get experience, or to get noticed by certain companies.

This has prompted many contractors and freelance professionals to come up with the #NoFreeWork hash tag on Twitter, in a bid to educate people on why they shouldn’t work for free, even when starting out.

It might appear to be a good idea to work for free when you have no clients, but ultimately it is just a way to get taken advantage of.

Bizarrely, 20% of those who took part in the survey said that working for free was a standard practice in their industry.

I really don’t get this at all…who would see working for free as a “standard practice?” Perhaps they don’t have bills to pay, but it really isn’t a good idea to do any kind of work for free as it doesn’t put value on your time.

If a potential client starts to talk about standard practice and all of that nonsense, then ignore them and go to the next one. If you are in an industry where nobody wants to pay, then I think it’s time to move into another industry, one where clients understand the value of what you are offering.

What about companies that think nothing of hiring freelancers and then not paying them for their time and work? In my opinion, more needs to be done here to stop people getting away with this.

Maybe a small business commissioner could be installed by the government to get involved when clients don’t pay, or maybe umbrella contractors should simply begin taking payments upfront, especially when they haven’t worked for a client before? Something needs to be done.

It even appears that in some industries you can’t even get free work, as 40% of those surveyed commented that they usually had competition for free jobs and very often didn’t even get them.

Some might argue that if people are willing to work for free then let companies take advantage of that. To a point I agree, but ultimately I think nothing good will ever come from a something for nothing mindset, and you will get to a point where the skills on offer won’t be very good quality.

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Ed Vaizey – “Minimum Wage for Gig Workers”

Tory minister Ed Vaizey has gone on record saying that freelance workers in the so called “gig economy” should be on minimum wage.

This of course comes at a time when the line between employment and self employment is not completely clear. Take the Uber situation for example, where courts are now starting to rule that their freelance drivers are in fact employed and should be guaranteed minimum wage.

I am going to disagree with Ed Vaizey here and for the simple reason that if you choose to be self employed then why should you be guaranteed anything? That is the chance anyone takes when they start a new business, go freelance, become a contractor or choose to be a gig worker, and if you don’t like the thought of it then get a job where you are guaranteed a wage. It really is as simple as that.

Uber workers knew what they were signing up for when taking on the role…a freelance position with an opportunity to potentially earn money…not a guarantee, and if you don’t agree with that then look elsewhere. If you want minimum wage then look elsewhere. Unfortunately, it seems people like Ed Vaizey just don’t understand this.

Instead, he has called for the government to give us a “definition of a new kind of worker in the gig economy” which he then went on to describe as a “halfway house” between being employed and self employed.

He’s wrong of course, and anyone with any kind of common sense can see this. Either you are employed or you are not. There is no halfway house.

If you are a contractor or freelancer benefiting from the gig economy then you are self employed, and the idea of a minimum wage is ludicrous.

As we all know though, many politicians are way out of touch with what is really going on in the world, especially the world of business, and once you give them any kind of power or input into the decision making process they have this amazing ability to get things completely wrong.

Once this happens, they hide away and try to pass the blame. It’s easy to call for minimum wage for gig workers like Ed Vaizey has, if you don’t have to take any responsibility when things go wrong.

The freelance world is now full of people who quit well paying jobs with companies like Google and Microsoft, in order to offer their skills in the gig economy, and are now earning more than before, while working less hours and living the kind of lifestyle they want to.

These people don’t need a guarantee of minimum wage, and if you do then I really don’t think being a gig worker is for you.

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SMEs need experienced management

New research from the FSB says that small firms need experienced individuals in leadership roles – a clarion call for self-employed management types.

Work as a consultant, a freelance manager, or an umbrella company contractor in a related field? Do you simply have shedloads of experience in a given sector with a proven track record of leading teams of workers to victory? Well, the Federation of Small Businesses just discovered that SMEs are looking for individuals with highly-developed management and leadership skills, so this could be your lucky day.

The newly-published FSB report discovered that there’s a lack of good leadership potential amongst SMEs in the UK, with only three out of every five small business owners taking the time and energy to keep abreast of their business skills by seeking to update their knowledge once a year. What’s even better – for experienced managers looking for work, at least – is that one out of every four SME owners don’t engage in any sort of continuing education when it comes to leadership and management at all. In other words, there’s a massive untapped reservoir of potential positions out there just begging to be filled.

So why would an SME owner even bother with bringing on a management consultant though, especially if they seem to be getting on without too much trouble otherwise? It’s simple: investing in management skills for the average small business can lead to massive gains, according to the FSB’s research. In other words, contracting in someone with excellent leadership skills can lead to increased efficiency and even some rather positive growth for any SME – especially ones with permanent staff that are lacking in these areas.

Think I’m just blowing smoke up your arse? Well the FSB’s research found that less than one out of every five small businesses trains their own staff in proper management skills. Part of the problem is often financial, with budgetary constraints making it impossible to hire on a skilled and experienced manager in a permanent role; 43 per cent of SMEs said that it was a lack of money that led to them not seeking out skilled management types for their firm. However, with freelancers and umbrella contractors a much more affordable alternative, an SME owner would have to be mad not to take advantage of one.

So let’s hope British SME owners are reading this new research and decide to do the right thing in regards to helping their firm grow more efficient and profitable – all the while employing additional contract workers in the management field!


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ONS reveals new, mind-blowing employment research findings

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents: according to the Office for National Statistics has found that more than four million Brits work from their homes.

This new milestone was reached sometime in the last 12 months, where the ONS says an additional 62,000 began to work from their home office instead of braving traffic just so they can get to their miserable office cubicle and pretend to be happy. Instead, an increasing number of Brits – well over four million – would rather just wear their pyjamas whilst they sit down at the kitchen table instead. 

Now I may be not the first person to point out this growing trend and how it also includes freelancers and umbrella company workers as well but I certainly can say one thing: if you’re looking to get away from the 9 to 5 struggle, you could do much worse than simply going into work for yourself instead of someone else. Contract workers most often work from home an not an actual office building somewhere, especially those that work in fields that don’t require anything more than a laptop and an internet connection, and it’s this new and growing trend that’s been feeding stay at home workers to seemingly no end.

For what it’s worth, I say good. I can only hope that the nation’s freelancers and contractors continue to pick up work they can do from home, and I’m currently keen to see how many permanent employees continue to jog across the line that separates those who work not for a boss but for a client, which would of course swell the ranks. In fact, industry experts predict that the traditional work model will most likely fall by the wayside. I can hardly wait; on that day – if it comes within my lifetime at any rate – I’ll be dancing the Viennese waltz as firms as firms begin to shutter their doors one by one because they suddenly can’t make enough money to justify hiring on employees any more.

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Is UK pay equality a problem that needs addressing?

Whether you’re a permanent employee or a contract worker, you likely think you should be paid more – and the truth may be you’re not getting paid enough indeed.

Or at least that’s what the Trades Union Congress is positing in a recently released report. The TUC’s new research study – released just in time for the two-week Fair Pay Fortnight that runs until 6 April – found that there is some serious wage inequality affecting Brits, with Londoners being the worst off by a fair margin.

On a national level, pay inequality stood at 4.5 per cent in the UK. Meanwhile the average for a worker in London was nearly twice that at 8.5 per cent – a serious jump that the TUC says needs to be addressed. Not only that but over the 13 year period that the study examined, the pay gap increased by a worrying 14 per cent between the top tenth and the bottom tenth of British earners.

The capital wasn’t the only region that saw some big losers when it came to pay inequality, though. The East Midlands came in at 5 per cent, 0.5 percentage points over the national average, whilst the West Midlands saw a 7 per cent increase as well. Wales and the South-West were the only regions to actually see inequality shrink over this period of time.

So what do these figures mean in a real-world sense besides the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer? Well for what it’s worth it means that the economic recovery in the UK simply isn’t benefiting the country as a whole but only those earning top wages. In other words, it’s fantastic if you’re the chief executive of a High Street bank but if you’re a freelancer or an umbrella company contractor – or wore yet, a lowly member of that same High Street bank’s branch staff – you’re not going to be very likely to benefit from increased revenues and profits any time soon. It’s a serious problem, and one that could only get worse if this continues without respite over the next few years.

The worst part of this is that the slow yet inexorable increase in the pay gap is so stealthy that many Brits don’t even realise it until it’s too late. Suddenly they look at their pay packets and the realisation dawns upon them that they don’t make enough to pay the mortgage any more, yet their bosses and supervisors are motoring about in Jaguars and Alfa Romeos. It’s bloody frustrating if you ask me!

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HMRC raids construction contractors for record £122 million

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has positively plundered the construction contractor industry this year with a record £122 million in collected extra tax.

This amazing uptick is 55 per cent higher than what the taxman collected in the previous year and shows how adamant the Government has become in squeezing contractors and freelancers for every last penny they can. Many industry experts even point to this incredible windfall as the Government focusing less on stamping out tax avoidance and more on specifically targeting umbrella company contractors and other self-employed Brits with unfair tax burdens.

The big push has come to kerb so-called false self-employment, which is to be honest a serious problem but not nearly as bad as the Government would have you think. I mean yes there are some mightily well-paid blokes that masquerade as contractors instead of regular employees to avoid paying through the nose on tax but they make much, much more per annum than your average freelance worker; we’re talking enough money stuffed away in overseas tax shelters to put King Midas to shame. The majority of contractors don’t make nearly that much sadly, though it’s not from lack of trying!

It’s not just me that thinks the Government is pushing too hard on these contractors. In fact, the Chartered Institute of Taxation also has gone on record to say that the otherwise justified goal of taking on false self-employment is being pursued with too much zeal by those in power. Nobody should be falsely penalised, the CIT says, and I can’t help but agree with this assessment. It’s easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to taxation, and I truly think this is exactly where the Government is heading on this one.

Listen, no one is denying that HMRC doesn’t work hard to keep revenue flowing into Treasury coffers in an effort to provide much-needed cash to keep the country functioning  – they do. I just think that having the tax authority focus on stamping out such specialised forms of tax evasion is barking up the wrong tree; not only does it spend time and money pointlessly but it sends the wrong message as well. I think the taxman would be much more better suited if if would just stick to trying to wrest unpaid taxes from large multinationals and leave self-employed individuals to their own devices.



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