Autumn Budget: Good for creatives, could be much better on freelancers🐱💻
Humanising the new worlds of work 🤖 | #67
Welcome to The Shift: a weekly-ish newsletter on our work-from-anywhere future and making a living online. It’s written by me—Nicci Talbot, an indie writer and journalist.
★ This week: Autumn Budget: the big story for contractors; IR35: A follow-up inquiry into off-payroll working; Slow freelancing; how to network effectively.
I have money on the brain this week—chasing invoices and helping others to do the same via the NUJ, and digesting the Autumn Budget 🤔
A packed and pretty generous budget, given the circumstances. Good to see the National Living Wage is set to increase to £9.50. A Universal Credit taper reduction—those who have incomes topped up will be penalised less for working and earning money. A £1.7bn Levelling Up Fund for regen, £2bn for schools & colleges, and a digital skills initiative for SMEs—bring it on.
Good for creatives, could be much better on freelancers: "Autumn Budget 2021 looks good for the creative industries at the macro level—infrastructure, skills, innovation is great, but could do much, much better for individual creatives who freelance as self-employed sole traders," says FreelanceUK. Especially as the NIC and dividend tax rise in April '22 will hit us hard.
The big story for contractors: There is nothing on IR35 and umbrella company regulations, which is frustrating for those of us struggling with IR35 changes that have made it more expensive for firms to use freelancers (witness the HGV drivers shortage!). IPSE’s research found 1/3 of contractors have been driven out of self-employment by the changes.
It’s disappointing there's no umbrella company regulation enforcement body for fair treatment of agency workers. It would also be good to clarify when it's right to operate as a sole trader, employee and limited company. I disagree with sole traders being forced to work as limited companies when contracting.
High skilled migration: Talk of new Scale-up, High Potential Individual and Global Business Mobility Visas again and a Global Talent Network for science and tech. But the system is draconian, and since Brexit: "many highly skilled workers that operated through compliant umbrella and accountancy firms have left our economy, and current rules discourage them from returning", says the FCSA.
We also need clarity on how these work for areas like design that are reliant on freelancers.
This week, I'm starting a new contract that’s outside IR35, so I’ve been trying to find the best solution: limited company vs umbrella. Paystream gave me a test case and said I'd be better off financially if limited (80-85% take-home pay vs 60-65% via the umbrella). That's a big difference 😠 But it's not worth the admin and expense of going limited again for 150 hours' work so I'm trying to renegotiate the rate upwards. Let's see how things go—if there's a new contract, I'll consider it!
So, if you're working with an umbrella, check they are accredited with the FCSA—no more underhand umbrellas who pass on employers' costs to contractors!
Sunak: “We want this country to be the most exciting and dynamic place in the world for business.” Lots of praise for the drive of entrepreneurs and the self-employed who "strive in business, alone, for themselves." Who are innovative, creative, and take risks...
Yes, we do! But this doesn't match the reality for many freelancers & contractors who feel there's not much in this Budget to support them. #ForgottenLtd is still campaigning hard a year on. This post has reminded me to chase up the Covid Additional Restrictions Grant I applied for yonks ago, as it looks like local authority money is still unallocated.
Some good news. The House of Lords Finance Bill Sub-committee has launched a follow-up inquiry to their April ‘20 report: 'Off-payroll working: treating people fairly'. A call for evidence to assess how this is working in practice, whether IR35 rules have made it more difficult for companies to hire people with the right skills, and whether the rules have contributed to job vacancies.
If it's a yes, then maybe we'll see a relaxation of the rules in different sectors 🙏
Our previous inquiry found the Government's off-payroll working rules to be riddled with problems, unfairnesses, and unintended consequences. We called for the wholesale reform of IR35.
We're carrying out this follow-up inquiry to find out about the experiences of engagers and contractors to date. We want to hear particularly from representative bodies about the experiences of individual contractors—Chair, Lord Bridges of Headley.
You can give your feedback here (deadline Nov 15 2021).
Booze duty. I’m stocking up on red wine—and raising a toast to the Queen.
Happy Halloween🍷 👻 🎃
★ Skillbuilders: Launch Your Podcast in a Day (NUJ Wales). A rave review from a colleague about Dan Mason’s online course so I’ve signed up for updates. And a reminder to register with the ICO for data protection if you’re storing personal data e.g. podcast interviews. It’s not that well policed, so not many people know about it— he got the gig because he was registered with the ICO.
★ My Writing Living (ALCS) is a short animation to see where different authors and creative freelancers get their income from and how it all adds up. If you’re curious about making living from campaigning, here’s how Sarah Woods does it, working on projects she really believes in.
★ Building An Effective Professional Network (TPC) - lots of takeaways from Tina, Anthony and Ben at The Portfolio Collective. We all know how to network— but how do you do it effectively (keep a spreadsheet!) Ben has something like 29K contacts on LinkedIn - here’s how he manages them. We need to talk more about making new friends as adults with the rise of remote working, nomadism, and short-term gigs.
★ I had to chuckle at this post from UX writer Evnisha on how all jobs today are some version of "must be comfortable working in a fast-paced, high-pressured environment". Can we all please chill the fuck out. We’re humans, not insta-pots👏 I love how Jess Evans responded with a comment about ‘slow freelancing’ and ‘slow journalism’. YES! More on doing deep, intentional work as a philosophy for your small biz at their next event.
★ Top takeaways from Elina Jutelyte on the Future of Work week at Freelance Business Month. And great to see LinkedIn has rolled out its freelance services marketplace globally after picking up 2M users in beta— adapting to current trends in the job market and how we work.
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