Freelancer confidence falls again as pressures rise
Uncertainty over Brexit and a steep drop in income have jointly led to a sharp fall in freelancers’ confidence, says a freelance trade body.
In fact, although their economic confidence had crept up marginally in the last quarter from a record low, freelancers’ fears about finance and leaving Europe have sunk it again, found IPSE.
An increase in their business costs for 80% of the freelance sample exacerbates the picture, said the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).
This is because it is forecast in addition to the 17% decline in both quarterly earnings and daily rates; “alarming” the association said, and the second successive dip of its kind.
“The freelance business sector has now moved into recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth,” IPSE said in their latest confidence report, compiled with PeoplePerHour.
“Freelancers are seeing their business costs increasing [with a 10.3% hike predicted in 2018] and average day rates decreasing, which is causing problems within the workforce.”
But as the comparative pay picture is still positive (freelancers earn more than twice as much as equivalent employees, and rates are only 3% down annually) inflation rising over the surveyed period may be a factor.
A bigger strain on their confidence is Brexit; voiced by more than six in ten of the sample; followed closely by government policy on freelancing and, raised by an equal number, government policy on regulation.
Prof Andrew Burke, Dean of Dublin’s Trinity Business School sees an upside however. “[Freelancers] see the government’s policies on Brexit, taxation and the regulation of freelance work as the main factors that have had a detrimental effect on the freelance sector.
“However, this could be seen as quite reassuring,” he said, “because it means they believe changing government policy in these areas could have a positive effect on the performance of the UK’s freelance businesses.”