Every day, the UK news is seemingly awash with debates about Brexit’s potential effect on the economy, jobs, house prices, immigration, the high street, and more. But within those discussions, freelancers have been largely neglected and forgotten. So, let’s talk about how Brexit might affect freelancers and what you can to mitigate the potential Brexit risks.
Flatlining freelance sector
New research from IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) and freelancing platform PeoplePerHour revealed some alarming results about the freelance sector. According to their Q2 Confidence Index, the UK freelance sector is “flatlining” due to pressure from Brexit.
The study found that freelancers:
- Have low confidence in their own business performance over the next year (6.7).
- Experienced a 17% pay slump in Q1 2019 compared to Q4 2018.
- Gained 4% less work than Q4 2018 (“on assignment” time declined from 79% – 74%).
The biggest reason for these factors? Brexit. The second-biggest reason was government fiscal policy relating to freelancing, and third was government policy about hiring freelancers (no doubt, IR35 is having a negative effect on contract-based freelancers). That said, Brexit is by far the biggest issue affecting freelancers at the moment. In particular:
- 70% of freelancers predict that their business costs will increase in the coming year.
- 80% of freelancers oppose a no-deal Brexit.
- Freelancers have very low confidence in the wider economy over the next 12 months (-38%).
In short, Brexit is causing stagnation, low confidence, and anxiety for freelancers.
What can freelancers do to prepare for Brexit?
Sadly, there isn’t a crystal ball to show us how Brexit will affect freelancers. But the good news is there are things you can do as a freelancer to mitigate the possible effects of Brexit:
Look globally: Being a freelancer means you have access to a global market, since the majority of freelance work can be done remotely. As other economies aren’t affected by Brexit, look further afield for work if you’ve previously focused on the UK market.
Move elsewhere: If you’re not tied to the UK for personal reasons, one of the benefits of being a freelancer is that you can work from anywhere in the world. This means you could take the opportunity to go travelling, become a digital nomad, or move overseas.
Increase your value: If you’re stagnating or gaining less work, reconsider your service offering to add more value for customers. You can always improve your offering and increase your chances of gaining more work by outperforming your competitors.
Renegotiate costs: If your business costs are increasing, shop around to find better deals, whether it’s for big things like business insurance or small things like stationery. It’s also worth considering whether you really need everything you’re paying for.
Of course, there are many other things you can do to prepare for Brexit as a freelancer depending on your personal circumstances. The important thing to remember is that being a freelancer means you’re in control of your actions and your future, whatever Brexit may bring.
How do you think Brexit will affect you as a freelancer? Feel free to comment below. And stay tuned for more tips and news every week on A Freelance Life…