Freelancers' body hands Osborne its wishlist

George Osborne has been urged to put five policies that would support self-employed and freelance professionals at the heart of his Autumn Statement on December 3rd.

Responding to the Treasury’s call for input into the chancellor’s statement, IPSE submitted the five as part of a longer list of proposals to help the more than four million people who now work for themselves.

Both sets of policy proposals are unified by the aim of creating “a level playing field for independent workers,” according to Simon McVicker, policy head at IPSE, formerly the PCG.

For example, of those submitted to Mr Osborne, the group proposes that he cuts business rates for work-hubs and co-working spaces, which are increasingly popular with freelancers and the self-employed.

The chancellor should also set up an expert body to examine how a merger of income tax with national insurance contributions could be achieved, and should create an optional Freelancer Limited Company (FLC).

According to the longer list of IPSE’s proposals, which are based on the group’s manifesto, the government should appoint a minister for self-employment; back the rise in women who work in such a way, and protect all independent workers from late payment.

IPSE reflected: “Ahead of the general election next May, the Autumn Statement presents the perfect opportunity for George Osborne to show how serious the Conservative government is about supporting Britain's 4.6 million self-employed people.”

Mr McVicker added that one way such a commitment could be shown would be if the chancellor delivered “a flexible pension scheme [and] a fairer approach to training.”

These are the two other proposals that IPSE wants Mr Osborne to unveil in a month’s time, alongside cutting rates for work hubs, setting up the ‘FLC’ and the commissioning of a body to explore the tax-NIC merger.

In particular, the chancellor is called to ensure training for new skills is tax-deductible, and is asked to offer freelancers a pension scheme so they can withdraw the last two years of contributions without a penalty.

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