Articles - 5th June 2019

Admin tasks cost UK freelancers more than £28bn a year

Words by Emily & Jack

Admin tasks costing UK freelancers more than £28bn a year, cause drain on British economy

Business Matters reported that freelancers spend over eight and a half days a year on admin according to research done by SetApp. The survey of 1,002 British freelancers found that only one in ten had seen a decrease in the amount of admin they’ve had to do since joining the gig economy, with over two-fifths seeing an increase. This is a worrying indication of the impact that freelance work can have on gig economy workers.

Almost half of the freelancers surveyed said that having to undertake the often time-consuming admin tasks held back their productivity, with 16-24-year olds finding it the most frustrating. The UK is already facing a productivity crisis as levels are lower now than they were at any time in the 20th century.

Oleksandr Kosovan, CEO and Founder of Setapp, which commissioned the research, says: “Freelancers are missing out on a substantial amount of money through the inefficiency of how they’re taking on admin tasks. Time is money in the freelancing world, and the existing approach is diverting time away from tasks that could increase the revenue they’re able to generate for themselves and the UK economy.”

Just under a quarter of freelancers use productivity apps or software on a daily basis, showing that there is a lack of awareness of the apps available to them. The survey also found that cost is the biggest factor freelancers consider when selecting the apps that they use, with 70% saying it was their top priority, ahead of user experience or the reputation of the company.

Freelance workers in the dark about IR35 tax reforms

Emma Agyemang writes in the FT that freelancers are being left in the dark about changes to IR35. Apart from companies with less than 50 employees or a £10.2 million annual turnover, all businesses must assess the employment status of any contractor they use. The new rules are designed to tackle tax avoidance by contractors who HM Revenue & Customs believe would be employees if they were not using a company structure and should therefore be paying employee taxes.

But despite the upcoming change, 92 percent of contractors had not been contacted by their client or recruitment agency to discuss the reforms. A survey of 500 companies by Brookson Legal Services, a law firm focused on IR35, found that 59 percent were considering taking a blanket approach to assessing their contractors — because they did not have the time to make decisions about contractors individually.

73 percent of businesses said the IR35 reforms would have an impact on the number of contractors they hired.

IPSE: Government-led chaos hits freelancers

New figures from the UK’s freelancers show a drop of over £4,000 (£4,302) in average quarterly earnings. Freelancers place the blame squarely on government policy.

The figures are from a survey taken at the end of March, as part of the IPSE (Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) and PeoplePerHour quarterly Freelancer Confidence Index.

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, commented: “Freelancers are clearly extremely frustrated with this Conservative government’s chaotic management of Brexit and business. It should be a stark warning for the Tory leadership hopefuls.

“The ‘party of small business’ has done very little to understand or encourage the smallest firms or the future flexible workforce. Even beyond Brexit, we have seen only small steps on late payment, inertia on parental rights and outright hostility on tax.

The gig is up: America’s booming economy is built on hollow promises

Former US Secretary of Labour Robert Reich wrote in the Guardian last week on the dangers that the gig economy poses for long term workers in the US.

“Across America”, he writes, “the fastest-growing category of new jobs is gig work – contract, part-time, temp, self-employed and freelance. And a growing number of people work for staffing firms that find them gig jobs.”

“Estimates vary but it’s safe to say almost a quarter of American workers are now gig workers. Which helps explain why the standard economic measures – unemployment and income – look better than Americans feel.

‘The algorithm is our boss’: Uber drivers face long hours, no benefits and sometimes danger

Having just IPO’d, Uber is certainly under large amounts of scrutiny. Not only are they under investigation from US and foreign tax authorities and lost a billion dollars in their IPO, but they also were the subject of a long expositional piece by Yahoo finance where they interviewed several different drivers at different stages of their careers. The results were harrowing in many ways.

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