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7 predictions for contractors and freelancers in 2022

4-minute read

Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

14 December 2021

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With coronavirus restrictions and regulation changes, the self-employed have had it tough recently.

But the message we heard from the self-employed throughout 2021 is that you’re cautiously optimistic. What will 2022 bring?

7 predictions for contractors and freelancers in 2022

1. Will there be more focus on wellbeing?

In April 2021, small business owners told us that they’re optimistic about what the future holds. Despite renewed uncertainty, 2022 has the potential to continue the UK’s recovery – and bring with it a greater focus on wellbeing.

Here’s what the self-employed told us last year about the future of their business and the economy:

  • 36 per cent said they felt positive about the future of their business
  • 31 per cent were confident about their business’s ability to adapt to new conditions
  • 39 per cent felt optimistic about the economy picking up again

And here’s what they said about boosting their wellbeing:

  • 64 per cent planned to do more exercise
  • 67 per cent were spending more time outside
  • 64 per cent planned to dedicate more time to connecting with friends and family

Does this give you inspiration for new beginnings this January? Have a look at our expert wellbeing resources for the self-employed and download our report for more on self-employed wellbeing.

2. Will you have your say on umbrella companies?

A government consultation on umbrella companies will close in February 2022. The consultation invites responses from a broad range of people.

In its call for evidence, the government says it’s aware that some umbrella companies aren’t compliant with employment law, and that it has examples of tax evasion.

So, whatever your experience with umbrella companies, this is your chance to have your say on regulation.

What is an umbrella company?

Working through an umbrella company is an alternative to working through your own limited company. Contractors become employees of the umbrella company, which acts as an intermediary between the contractor and the recruitment agency (or end client).

But some unscrupulous umbrella companies promise to reduce your tax liability and increase your pay in a non-compliant way.

Read more about umbrella companies and IR35.

3. Will contractor rates increase?

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) runs a quarterly confidence index that tracks the outlook of freelancers from across the UK.

IPSE’s latest report for Q3 2021 shows that contractors have a mixed outlook for the next 12 months:

  • freelancers’ confidence in their own business and the UK economy for the next 12 months has dropped from Q2
  • but their average day rates have increased to the highest levels since IPSE established the index, at £537
  • over half (51 per cent) expect that day rates will continue to rise over the next 12 months
  • freelancers’ average quarterly earnings are at £24,606 this quarter, their highest figure since Q4 2018

How do these statistics fit with your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

4. Will there be more grants available to help businesses recover?

When it comes to government financial help during coronavirus, in 2021 81 per cent of small businesses told us that they haven’t had enough support.

And with the available support winding down regardless, businesses may look to other sectors for grants and further funding in 2022.

You can have a look at our guide to the best small business grants to find out if any suit your business.

We’ve also run our own Business Boost cash grant for two years now. In 2021, we gave £25,000 to Brighton-based consultancy Watch This Sp_ce.

They’re focused on inclusion, happiness at work, and getting businesses ready for the future.

As the UK’s small businesses continue their recovery, our Business Boost grant will run in 2022, offering cash to help one self-employed person take their business to the next level.

Sign up to hear about future Business Boost grants

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5. Will savvy entrepreneurs make additional income?

Simply Business research from November 2021 revealed that more than one third of people in the UK now run their own side hustle. Some savvy entrepreneurs even expect to make more than £5,000 each in additional income in the next year.

So side hustles show no sign of slowing down. Our survey highlighted that 31 per cent of people are thinking about setting up a side business but haven’t got it up and running yet, so expect to see more in 2022.

Read more about setting up and running a side business.

We've also previously reported on the fastest growing small business industries in the UK. Our research showed surges in outdoor market stall traders and caterers and home bakers between 2020-2021, likely as a result of businesses adapting to coronavirus restrictions. Will the number of outdoor market stall traders continue to grow in 2022?

Reasons to start a side hustle

6. What tax changes are coming?

Tax has been in the spotlight as the government looks at ways to pay for its coronavirus support package. Let’s focus on changes we know are being introduced in 2022:

And remember the tax return deadline. You’ll need to send your Self Assessment and pay your tax bill by that date, but we have Self Assessment resources to help make that process as smooth as possible.

Finally, after being extended, the Recovery Loan Scheme now closes on 30 June 2022.

7. Will 2022 be the start of business recovery?

In summer 2021, as restrictions were set to lift, we produced a report into the impact of Covid-19 on small businesses.

We asked small business owners how long they expect it to take for their business to recover financially and to recoup money lost during the pandemic.

Almost a fifth (18 per cent) of small business owners predicted 18 months to two years, which pushes recovery into late 2022.

However, many more business owners didn’t predict recovery until beyond 2022:

  • 20 per cent said it would take two to three years
  • another 20 per cent said it would take three years or more

We’ve already encouraged customers to continue supporting small businesses beyond the Christmas holidays. Look out for more initiatives to help make sure that business returns to normal in 2022.

Are you optimistic about your business in 2022? Let us know in the comments below and by voting in our poll.

What are your predictions for 2022? Let us know in the comments below.

Photograph 1: Jelena/

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Sam Bromley

Written by

Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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