A band of contractors’ supporters have drawn up a ten-point ‘manifesto’ that would put freelance contracting on a surer footing – for both its hopeful and established practitioners
The Small Business Taskforce, which consists of 11 contractor-friendly organisations, says it will raise the manifesto points in upcoming meetings with ministers and policy-makers.
The most unifying point — in that it would benefit all people in business of their own account; aspiring and existing, is for the government to set a definition of self-employment.
Championed by contractor trade body IPSE, the definition – as an idea – is not new . It has been submitted in Budget wish-lists. And it was submitted to the Taylor Review.
But independent workers are today still “unsettled” because their status may be affected by court decisions involving Uber, Pimlico Plumbers and Deliveroo, says IPSE policy director Simon McVicker.
Setting self-employment ‘in stone’ would give business soloists certainty and end the “unacceptable” practice of policymakers relying on courts to frame employment status, he says.
“We want a positive definition of self-employment so the genuinely self-employed have… peace of mind”, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed said.
They add that a definition would also head off “unscrupulous companies” from “exploiting confusion and push people into false self-employment”. It’s a problem MPs have flagged up.
The manifesto’s other recommendations, all of which its authors say are designed to help the UK remain one of the best places in the world to start a business, include:
Delivering and coordinating new data in a way that will accurately measure the contribution small firms and self-employed individuals make to the economy and the communities in which they operate;
Shared parental leave rights and consideration of extending free childcare hours for self-employed parents;
A single gateway to allow small firms to flag late payment concerns, offering four directions of travel to find a fast resolution and facilitate continued trade;
A group to look at how small business support can be funded post-Brexit by harnessing technology and data like Open Banking;
The relaxation of business rates relief for co-working spaces to allow microbusiness to collaborate, and start-ups to get a good start;
A simplified bidding processes for small firms so they can better apply for government contracts;
HMRC to be given more resources to process registration applications for Enterprise Investment Scheme Relief in a post-Brexit scenario;
More awareness of entrepreneurship and start-ups in schools.
Taskforce leader Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation said: “We’re setting out our demands now because it feels like the government is ready to listen.
“Small businesses and the self-employed have been patient – but it’s time to raise these legitimate concerns in our manifesto in order to support enterprising individuals so that they can have the best chance to grow businesses and thrive in the UK.”