On 18 April, Prime Minister Theresa May strode out of the front door of 10 Downing Street and called a snap general election.
In announcing the surprise election, May stressed the importance of unity in the face of Brexit, praised the UK’s economic growth and the record number of jobs, and emphasised the need to remove the risk of uncertainty and instability.
Whatever the outcome on 8 June, it is imperative that the incoming government make the UK’s self-employed workforce central to these plans and eradicate the uncertainty and instability that threaten to diminish their ability to add worth, creativity and flexibility to the UK.
The UK’s rapidly growing 4.8 million self-employed contribute £255 billion to the economy every year. The fact that they comprise 15 per cent of the total UK workforce illustrates the need for the government to adopt and implement policies to support them and assist them in stimulating growth and employment rates.
Self-employment is a riskier way of working than employment. Self-employed people take on all the risk from their clients and customers, and in doing so, increase efficiency and innovation. Given the uncertainty forged by the ongoing Brexit negotiations, it is vital that the UK has a thriving, dynamic economy. The self-employed help deliver this.
They are one of the major catalysts for the jobs and economic growth that May talked of during her announcement, therefore the need to recognise this with helpful rather than hindering policies is more important now than ever before.
Recent governments have heeded IPSE’s advice – most notably in the introduction of the small business commissioner and progress on fairer parental benefits. There is more to be done, however.
In March, the Chancellor reneged on a party manifesto pledge and increased class 4 NICs for the self-employed. Though there was a U-turn the following week, the issue may indeed return to the agenda now that the initial pledge has gone.
Controversial IR35 changes in the public sector have had a chaotic effect and prompted widespread confusion. Can the new government commit to not implementing the same changes in the private sector as well?
Then there’s the issue of the ongoing Taylor Review – to which IPSE has recently contributed with an official submission and appearances during the regional panel session. The review can only make recommendations to the government, but it is widely considered that its advice will be heeded closely.
So, where does your party stand on taxing the self-employed? Should the Conservatives consider the question of pension options for the self-employed in the review into auto-enrolment? What is the Labour party’s position on maternity pay for the self-employed?
How do the Lib Dems propose to combat companies shirking their obligations as employers? Would the SNP back a Scottish Small Business Commissioner to tackle the rates on small businesses and the self-employed?
Here IPSE outlines each party’s stance on self-employment and the implications their election could have.