7 ways the government could improve life for the UK’s freelancers

The government and business leaders must take concrete steps to improve the lives of the UK’s self-employed.

This is according to the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE), which has released a set of policy recommendations to mark National Freelancers Day on 28th June.

The think tank says that self-employed wellbeing has traditionally been considered only through the prism of economic success. It believes its proposals represent a new approach, which considers the “overall life satisfaction” of freelancers.

7 policy recommendations

The CRSE has made seven key policy recommendations that it says could improve self-employed wellbeing:

1. Abolish the New Enterprise Allowance

The CRSE points out that uptake of the New Enterprise Allowance has been low, and calls either for its abolition or for efforts to broaden involvement in the scheme. They say this could be done by introducing new “confidence-building measures”.

2. Create a culture where business failures are considered normal

The CRSE wants a culture where failures are seen as a normal part of entrepreneurial life, not as personal failures of self-employed people.

They claim one way of achieving this would be to restructure bankruptcy procedures to “allow for good faith business failures”.

3. Broaden access to mentoring

The CRSE says more mentoring is needed not only at the start-up stage but also in periods of business crisis, and is calling for mentoring to be more firmly embedded in Job Centres. They believe mentoring can reduce stress and improve confidence.

4. Improve access to skills development resources tailored to the self-employed

The think-tank wants the Treasury to extend tax breaks to cover skills development. They also say they could introduce training vouchers for the self-employed.

5. Introduce savings and related schemes tailored specifically to the self-employed

In particular, pension providers could build products and information designed for freelancers. One suggested pension scheme is the ‘sidecar’ model, where contributions are divided between a ‘rainy day’ fund and a pension pot. Once the rainy day fund hits a certain point, savings are diverted into the pension.

Read our self-employed pensions guide for more on saving into a pension.

6. Build more co-working spaces to combat isolation

The CRSE says more co-working hubs, where self-employed people can work together and find support, could be built by the government, co-operatives, or professional organisations.

7. Introduce “self-employed friendly banking strategies”

The report touches on the effect of late payment on cash flow, and calls for financial institutions to design products tailored specifically to self-employed people and their individual needs.

Banks could also promote existing funding and emergency credit initiatives.

If late payments are affecting your cash flow, we have tips on how to recover debt.

“Anxious, stressed out, and miserable?”

Martin Binder, the report’s author, commented: “Looking only at income or job creation when it comes to the self-employed experience is too narrow and can be misleading. Putting the overall life satisfaction of the self-employed centre stage gives us a much more comprehensive picture of how they are doing, beyond just their income.

“What, after all, is the point in encouraging more self-employment if people just end up more anxious, stressed out, and miserable?”

What do you think of the CRSE’s recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

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