Self-employment review recommends 10 actions

The David Cameron-commissioned review of self-employment has reported back with 10 recommendations, some of which have the potential to improve one-man bands’ bottom lines.

So mortgage products should be made more ‘freelancer-friendly’ (recommendation 3), and maternity pay for the self-employed should be matched to that of employees’ (recommendation 4).

But in terms of the independent workforce as a whole, the biggest recommendation appears to be recommendation 7, as it says all future government policy must take one-man bands into account.

Specifically: “Currently an Impact Assessment is carried out to calculate the impact that new policies will have on different sectors. Self-employment is not one of these sectors and it should be.”

The reasoning in the review, led by accessories entrepreneur Julie Deane, is that factoring freelancers in is “one step towards” creating proportionate, simple and cost-effective rules from the outset.

These aims appear to be behind another of the review’s recommendation – for government to come up with a single definition of self-employment for tax and employment law purposes.

The absence of such a definition “is causing an issue” says the review, as is the absence of a “central portal” from which people can get official advice and support when ‘going it alone.’

As well as setting up such a site to combat the “confusion” people feel from duplication of state bodies’ advice, a review of the ‘.gov.uk’ pages on self-employment is recommended.

Similarly in terms of education, Deane calls for guidance on finance, bookkeeping and taxation to be brought into the national curriculum, so that pupils who go onto self-employment have at least some financial training.

She also wants an adoption allowance for people who work for themselves; more co-working spaces and better details about their locations, plus IT guidance for one-man bands eying expansion.

Meanwhile, taxation is one area that was beyond the review’s scope – which was disappointing to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).  

However, tax came up so much during Deane consulting with single-person businesses that she thinks officials should look at it again, “in more detail.”

IPSE reflected yesterday: “We hope the recommendations will be taken up by government, as they will change the lives of the nation’s self-employed for the better.

“It’s important this thriving community has a suitable regulatory environment to grow into, which will only benefit and add to the competitiveness of our economy.”

The Freelancer and Contractor Services Association agrees: “[We] hope that the government listens to Ms Deane’s recommendations and addresses the concerns she has unveiled by listening to this group of workers.”

The Cambridge Satchel Company entrepreneur says she is looking forward to the government’s reply to her 10 recommendations over the “coming months,” suggesting it may come as soon as the March Budget.

Confirming receipt of her review, Mr Cameron said that all ten of the recommendations would be “carefully considered” by the government.

Feb 16, 2016