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COVID-19: One in five freelancers fear for their business

According to a new survey by the University of Edinburgh Business School in association with the IPSE, around one in five highly skilled freelancers fear they will have to stop their business due to the impact of COVID-19.

The study surveyed over 1,400 highly skilled UK freelancers, including 350 independent consultants and contractors. It found that 74 per cent had lost income, at an average income fall of 76 per cent, resulting in 69 per cent experiencing cash flow problems.

91 per cent of those surveyed, moreover, reported that they were unable to access the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), with 73 per cent saying this was because they worked through a limited company. According to the study, COVID-19 has seen average stress levels among freelancers increase 80 per cent.

IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) head of research Chloe Jepps said: “The plight of contractors working through limited companies can make for difficult reading because this group has not just been forgotten, but actually abandoned by the government. This research shows just how heavily this is falling on thousands of hard-working freelancers across the UK.”

“It is not only the statistics on highly skilled freelancers that are shocking, but also the stories they tell. One in five of them expects to have to close their business, and this translates to people burning through their savings, having to sell their homes and struggling to feed their families.”

Jepps added that SEISS “offers generous help to many self-employed people, but it is clear from this that there are gaping cracks in it through which thousands are falling – particularly limited companies and the newly self-employed. The government must urgently think again about these groups and get them the support they so badly need.”

Author: Chris James
Only Contract News
08.06.2020

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