Contractors' confidence sinks to near record low

Driven by Brexit and government policy, the confidence of the UK’s two million contractors has fallen to the second lowest level on record, says IPSE.

The contracting trade body found its members to be the least optimistic since the second quarter of last year, and their outlook has generally remained in negative territory since.

“This indicates that freelancers continue to expect a medium-term decline in their business performance,” said the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

In human terms, the index means that fewer than one in three contractors between January and March had “confidence” in their business performance for the subsequent 12 months.

And it means that the confidence in their prospects over the same period has abated among four in 10 of them, in line with most of the contractors also having a bleaker three-month outlook.

The only bright spot, it seems, is that confidence in their own one-person business -- despite being at a near record low, is still higher than their confidence in the economy.

This is despite the “relatively strong performance” of the economy since Brexit, which itself is serving to sap freelancer’ confidence.

“Alongside Brexit, those surveyed listed government policy as one of the two primary causes for their downturn in confidence,” added IPSE's chief executive Chris Bryce, who described the findings as ‘concerning.’

“Maintaining the current rate of NICs, simplifying the over-complicated new Making Tax Digital rules and giving greater powers to the small business commissioner would go a long way to alleviating their frail confidence levels.”

May 16, 2017