Pandemic has ‘seriously and structurally undermined’ freelance sector, with delay to Freedom Day adding to freelancers’ woes
A study by self-employment trade body, IPSE, has found that two in five (40%) freelancers are not financially prepared for the future.
Another 37 per cent are worried they will be unable to find work as the economy opens, while more than half (58%) reported that their irregular income has left them struggling to access financial support such as loans and mortgages.
Pandemic forces one-quarter of freelancers into debt
Previous research by the association showed that the pandemic has pushed more than one million freelancers into debt with nearly a quarter (23%) taking on credit cards to get by during the peak of the crisis.
A further quarter (27%) of self-employed people used up most of their savings to survive and 14 per cent went into their overdraft.
Although the easing of lockdown restrictions has helped the sector recover, it remains “financially scarred” IPSE warned, adding that further support is needed to help it get back on its feet.
700,000 freelancers driven out of sector
The trade body highlighted that the pandemic had driven at least 700,000 self-employed people out of the sector and called for a package targeting some of the hardest-hit industries.
Derek Cribb, CEO at IPSE, said: “The pandemic has left the freelance sector deeply financially scarred, driving hundreds of thousands out of its ranks and pushing a million more into debt.
“So far, the easing of restrictions has had a clear and positive impact, but the freelance sector has been seriously and structurally undermined and it is not enough. The delay in the easing of restrictions is also a major blow.
“Freelancers are one of the most productive and dynamic sectors of the UK workforce, offering vital flexible expertise to businesses up and down the country. For this reason, they have historically always been vital to economic recovery after downturns.
Sector needs ‘shot-in-the-arm stimulus package’
“This is an extreme and unusual case, however, where freelancers were disproportionately exposed to the financial damage of the pandemic.
“To get on their feet and play their crucial role in the economic recovery, they will need a shot-in-the-arm stimulus package. This should be particularly targeted at the worst-affected groups, such as limited company directors – who were excluded from support – as well as freelancers in the events and creative industries.”