Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement Simon McVicker, Head of Public Affairs for PCG – the association representing the UK’s 1.56 million freelancers, said:
Reacting to the overall statement:
“Today’s autumn statement was grim listening, particularly noting the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) figures projected downgrading of growth and the confirmation of the UK’s worst structural debt ever outside wartime. As a consequence there was little to celebrate for the UK’s 1.56 million freelancers. We did not expect the statement to address core freelance issues such as the AWR or IR35 so were at least pleased with the pro small business nature of what the Chancellor had to say.
“However, it is deeply concerning that it’s going to take until 2017 to clear the UK’s huge debt mountain and it is clear from the OBR’s report that unemployment in the public sector previously predicted to rise by 400,000 is now set to jump by 710,000. On top of this the extremely weak growth figures suggest that the hopeful revival of jobs in the private sector is not going to occur in the short term. Therefore the implication of this for freelancers currently is unclear.
“Looking back from the start of the economic downturn in 2008, there has been steady growth in the freelance sector of some 12% and we believe that both public and private sector will turn to freelancing as the right business solution in these very difficult times.”
Reacting to the chancellor’s rail fare cap and relaxation of fuel duty:
“As a mobile workforce freelancers will be heartened by the delay of the 3p rise in fuel duty for January and the capping of bus and rail fares to RPI +1percent for 2012 from a previous RPI +3 percent announced in the budget.”
Reacting to the chancellor’s promises to improve small business loans:
“If proposed measures such as improving small business loans are carried out we could see a positive knock on effect for independent professionals as credit availability migrates into the potential to take on more contracts and contractors.”
Reacting to the chancellor’s desire to improve Public Sector Procurement access:
“Government procurement has too long been an issue for all SME’s and we are pleased to see this both mentioned and taken seriously by Mr Osborne, any measures to improve access to pitch for these contracts for freelancers will only become more important, particularly as public sector cuts appear to be revised to over 710,000.”
PCG, the voice of freelancing, is the leading UK professional association supporting, protecting and promoting the interests of the estimated 1.4 million consultants, contractors and freelance workers, regardless of sector. PCG has 20,000 members in the UK and offers assistance from starting a business to marketing, tax and everyday business issues. For more details, please visit www.pcg.co.uk