The latest Confidence Index from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and PeoplePerHour.com has revealed that British contracting professionals show the brightest and most confident outlook on their future since before the Brexit vote.

Despite the uncertainty of today’s climate from trepidation for the outcome of Brexit and economic pressures to outstanding official responses to the IR35 reform, contractors have bounced back from 2017’s record low in confidence. The most pessimistic score in 2017 was at -14.3, which surged to a promising +5.3 in 2018. This is, in fact, the highest confidence reading since the fourth quarter in 2015.

These findings were described by the Head of Research at IPSE, Suneeta Johal as the “resilience and determination” of contractors and freelancers.

“Against all odds […] they now have the highest confidence outlook for their business level since before the EU referendum…[despite] the negative forces ranged against the self-employed right now.”

Founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour.com, Xenios Thrasyvoulou remarked, contractors and freelancers, “by their very nature, are optimists and problem-solvers. The fact that they’re able to find positivity in the face of relatively dismal…[scenarios] perhaps shouldn’t surprise us.”

However because of these “negative forces” noted by Suneeta Johal, such as “the commitment to Brexit, taxation policies relating to freelancers and the regulation of the freelance sector,” contractors should expect choppy waters in the coming months. IPSE reaffirmed, “Regardless of whether freelancers’ increase in business confidence is justified or not”, all the information we have points to a “very tough business environment over the next 12 months.”

Consequently, contractors and freelancers are being advised to plan their businesses ahead and prepare for a number of scenarios. Professor Andrew Burke, dean of the Trinity Business School stated,

“The changes to the sector over the next 12 months could be revolutionary.” As a result, all contractors, “from managerial, professional and associate professional and technical occupations should […] prepare a portfolio of strategies to sustain their businesses through the range of scenarios that could arise,”

Suneeta Johal went on to urge the Government to do more for the contractor industry. Given the pressures contractors and freelancers are up against, the Government must make the self-employed a priority in their Brexit negotiations, and “to restore self-employed confidence in its own policies” they must consider “stepping back from any plans to extend the disastrous changes to IR35 to the private sector.”

 

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