This year’s Budget statement from chancellor George Osborne is due to take place on 18th March. The lead up to the budget is always marked by endless predictions about what to expect from tax to duty and public spending. Rightly so, as there are very few people who will not feel the impact of the decisions that will be announced later this month, whether it’s how much tax you pay or the price you pay for everyday essentials.
But contractors, freelancers and independent professionals occupy a unique position in relation to the Budget. The rise of freelancing in the last couple of years means that freelancers can contribute to the recovery of the UK economy as it continues the uphill climb to emerge out of the recession. Freelancing helps to create jobs and promotes entrepreneurship so it is increasingly expected that the budget will include concessions toward protecting freelancers and making the option of contracting more attractive.
So what can independent professionals expect out of the budget this year? Well, to answer that question fully we would need a crystal ball or the ability to project ahead two weeks in time. In the absence of time travel, we can explore the impact of last year’s Budget and consider what changes are likely to happen that will affect the community of independent professionals across the UK.
Budget 2014 – what was in it for freelancers?
There has been some concern that, despite the Conservatives’ pledge of being ‘the party of small business’ they have actually made very few direct budget and policy adjustments to both protect and encourage freelancing in the UK.
Julie Stewart, Chairman of IPSE, commented after last year’s budget that there is an urgent need for measurements to be put into place to empower freelancers to tackle late payment, a problem that freelancers struggle with regardless of industry. She also highlighted the importance of making the communications infrastructure, including wider access to the 4G network, much more affordable for those that have to travel but remain contactable for their business.
IPSE’s blog took a detailed look at last year’s budget, closely examining elements of it that were likely to affect freelancers significantly and any specific nods made toward the independent professional population. It’s well worth a read and will provide plenty of food for thought. Check it out here.
Budget 2015 – could it make a difference?
The landscape of the UK economy is complicated and ever-changing and the budget has to respond to that. There is a lot of hope among commentators that Osborne’s final budget will start to reflect the real world issues being faced by the freelance community.
The Telegraph has this week reported on the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) call for the chancellor reduce the tax burden faced by North Sea oil producers in the wake of falling oil prices. Investment in the industry, and the highly-skilled engineering jobs that make up a large portion of the nation’s contractors, has slowed down significantly and the CBI believes that reducing their tax commitment could help protect jobs in the sector. His decision on this could prove to be substantial in protecting the interests of freelancers in the oil and gas industry.
The Federation for Small Business have made consistent calls for an enterprise friendly budget that will encourage the growth of small businesses, through schemes such as tax reform and a sensitive stance on Minimum Wage changes.
Of course, we won’t know until Osborne makes his final Budget speech on March 18th exactly how the freelance economy will fare. But it seems to us that it’s key that any leading party needs to take the contribution that independent professionals make to the recovery of the UK economy seriously, and this needs to be reflected in policy by The Treasury.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Budget? Did 2014’s Budget have a significant effect on your freelancing business? What changed would you like to see from The Treasury? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation with us on Twitter or our new Facebook page.
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