Covid-19: Since the government announcement on their support for employees and businesses I have been campaigning along with many others about what support there will be for freelancers and the self-employed. It got me asking the question what do we all do for people and businesses so I submitted the following to the treasury select committee’s call for evidence.
What do freelancers and the self-employed do for you?
With 5 million self-employed people across the UK adding c. £300Bn to the UK economy each year. I thought I would put into perspective how much of everyone’s life is supported by a freelancer / a self-employed person.
Let’s start with home owners – have you ever had a little problem at your house you need fixing? Perhaps, a few odd jobs, leaky tap, spot of decorating. You’ve likely searched online or asked someone locally who they recommend. The chances are your local plumber, electrician, o
dd job person and decorator are all self-employed. They are on hand to fix a wide range of problems for you and also make things nice and easy for you if you are busy – they’ll paint your house, hang pictures, mow the lawn and so on. Perhaps you need some caring services for you or a member of your family. These are all freelancers too. These people all pay their taxes and have homes and families just like employees.
What about entertainment?
Every TV show and film you ever watch will have been put together with the help of freelancers – they form the back bone of most scripted content and the majority of unscripted too. From the writers, the producers and directors, to the set dressers, make-up artists, cinematographers and editors, not to mention the cast as well.
Then looking further than screen entertainment you have a whole range of leisure activities and pastimes where the self-employed are busy looking after you – be it going to events and festivals, fitness training with a personal trainer, or having a haircut or beauty treatments. All these are delivered by freelancers.
It’s freelancers who take you in their uber ride to get to your meeting or social engagement. They’ll be waiting the tables and serving the coffees when you get there.
All this is just in your personal life.
What about your working life?
Every time you need someone with high-end specialist skills for a short time in your organisation you can bet they’ll be a freelancer. Companies don’t need these specialist skills full-time so freelancers make life easy for companies by offering their services to them when they need them for as long as they need them – be it graphic design, website building, architecture, advertising, conferences, PR and so on. Your business couldn’t function without the self-employed.
What about those super busy times when everyone is stretched to capacity and you need some extra help for a short time? You get a freelancer in to add capacity for the short term.
Now think about what your life would be like if freelancers aren’t there offering these services when the country comes out the other side of Covid-19?
Think about how you will do all those jobs at home – the difficult ones you don’t have the specialist skills for such as electrical work and plumbing. What will you do of an evening with no content to watch?
And think about how your business will function when it can’t bring in specialist skills when it needs them or add capacity for a short time.
It’s not going to perform well…. You’re going to have to do things you just aren’t qualified to do and you won’t do them well. It won’t be fun. You may even have to talk to your partner and family of an evening if there’s no content to watch!
So please, we know you’re under a lot of pressure trying to keep the country going and stop the virus spreading. But don’t forget the value we all collectively add to your lives both personally and professionally and do the right thing at this difficult time and look after us properly and in line with the employed workforce.
You know we will reward you very well when this is all over.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for parity with PAYE workers. Our industries are in hibernation. You’ve closed our venues and stopped us working and delivering our services. Through no fault of our own we cannot do our work. It simply isn’t safe for us or for the wider community.
We ask that you consider our tax returns that we’ve submitted faithfully for many of us over many years and offer us the 80% guarantee of monthly income, up to a cap of £2500 per month, which will allow us to keep our lives intact and ensure you have our services to look forward to on the way out of this.
Whilst we are good at – and expect to – plan for the unexpected, no-one can plan for the unthinkable. Your reaction to supporting PAYE workers shows that you understand and support this.
Please support the freelancers and self-employed in the same way.