Solo contracting 'makes one in five suicidal'

Disconsolate contractors contemplating suicide due to the 2019 Loan Charge (LC) have another demon to battle if research is right -- their unique way of working.

In a study of 1,000 sole-person outfits, one in five admitted that the loneliness of working remotely had -- at some point while running their business alone -- led to thoughts of suicide.

The sobering finding, from printer company Epson, comes a day after another contractor was reported on social media to have attempted to take their own life because of fears of the LC.

Made by a former tax inspector, Philip Manley, a partner at tax firm DSW, his Tweet called for HMRC to set up a 24-hour phoneline to support LC contractors feeling suicidal.

Retrospective taxation (or the implications of it) was not covered in Epson’s study, in which an “absence” of work-related social life was identified as a strain for as many as one in three.

Not being part of a team and missing out on office banter were among the pressures, no doubt felt most acutely by the 25% who suffer from “frequent periods” of depression.

A big chunk of the freelance business owners (nine in ten) working from home may explain why as much as almost half the total sample described solo working as “isolating.”

The irony, though, is that despite 47% saying they chose solo consulting to avoid the stress of the office, an almost identical 48% now say they find professional freelancing “lonely.”

“One can be the loneliest number,” said Epson’s Annika Fagerstrom, who directed affected individuals to mental health charity Mind’s recommended steps to boost wellbeing at work. “For those lacking structure or support, solo working can be tough.”

In response to its findings, the printer company is running business workshops around a pop-up collaborative, Wi-Fi-enabled work space in Covent Garden, London. Both are available until October 29th.

“[Independent workers,] remember that you are not alone,” said the company, which is offering unlimited free printing at the pop-up.

“There are literally millions of solo workers in the UK and many millions more worldwide. Freelancers are at the vanguard of the new working world…but for anyone affected by any of the issues detailed…[there are] a number of helplines available.”

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