Many self-employed professionals are being left out of pocket

26th July 2018

Almost half of all self-employed professionals in the UK have been left out of pocket for work they have completed to the tune of thousands of pounds.

That’s according to a new report from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), which revealed some freelancers have been unpaid by up to £60,000 from completed work.

More than two-fifths (43%) of respondents admitted they had undertaken work they were never paid for. It’s a problem that impacted younger self-employed professionals more severely, with 58% of young workers citing this issue.

In the last 10 years, levels of self-employed in the UK have soared to all-time highs. At the turn of the millennium in 2001, some 3.3 million people were self-employed. In 2017, that figure rose to 4.8 million people, equating to over 15% of the nation’s workforce.

Earlier this summer, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called on bigger businesses to put a stop to poor payment practice with small employers.

Last year, YouGov research discovered that small firms across the UK were being denied up to £266 billion in earnings due to late payments from suppliers. It’s an alarming figure which must certainly be stunting the growth of many ambitious businesses nationwide.

Simon McVicker, Director of Policy, IPSE, said: “It is truly shocking to discover how far poor payment culture still goes.

“While the Government has taken some steps to improve it, it is simply unacceptable that 43% of self-employed people are still finding themselves up to £60,000 out of pocket because of their clients’ failings.”

The joint study conducted by the IPSE and IPA is titled ‘Working Well For Yourself: What makes for good self-employment?’. It is based on a string of focus groups that were carried out nationwide with 800 self-employed workers in varying professions.

Although most self-employed professionals surveyed were happy and content with their work, poor payment culture was cited as “dragging down wellbeing and contentment in the sector”.

Subsequently, the study makes several recommendations designed to improve the appeal of self-employment:

  • Enshrine the Prompt Payment Code into law, giving the Small Business Commissioner tougher powers to act against non-payers.
  • Promote good working practice between businesses and the self-employed.
  • Provide new opportunities for self-employed professionals to upskill.
  • Underline the benefits of co-working to give self-employed individuals a stronger support network.

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