Will Brexit be bad for freelancers?

The UK prime minister is looking to secure a last-gasp deal that will gain cross-party support, as well as the backing of the EU and the Irish Taoiseach. It’s no secret that the potential economic disaster of a no-deal Brexit could see some big companies leave the UK – Nissan is the latest company to once again voice its concerns – but it seems there could be a huge knock-on effect for the UK’s freelance workforce.

5 million freelancers stand to lose more than most from Brexit

Freelancers and gig-economy workers currently contribute roughly £130 billion to the UK’s economy, but many are already in dire financial straits. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that we would see a huge drain of highly skilled freelancers back to the continent, leaving the UK with a major lack of freelance talent.

Furthermore, the EU VAT refund system would no longer be available to UK freelancers in the EU or EU freelancers in the UK, leading to administrative burdens and delays in receiving refunds for the gig economy workers. Both UK freelancers in the EU and those from Europe working in the UK may also have to start paying social security contributions to both the UK and their country of origin, which could dissuade them from staying in their foreign country.

Research from ETZ Payments, provider of recruitment timesheet software, has found that 2.6 million skilled freelance workers regularly miss bill payments due to not being paid on time and have had to turn to payday lenders due to unstable pay. Given this information, a no-deal Brexit is set to have major repercussions which will make earning a living from freelancing an even more daunting prospect.

Nick Woodward, CEO of ETZ Payments, said: “There are huge numbers of highly-skilled freelancers who have immigrated to the UK and offer their expertise and services to industries including technology, finance and production.”

He added: “A no-deal Brexit could have catastrophic consequences for these workers and could hugely reduce the number of freelancers working in the UK which may have a devastating impact on the economy. Given that a lot of freelancers are already working multiple jobs and are struggling to make ends meet due to inconsistent pay, how are they going to cope when confronted with the negative consequences of a no-deal Brexit?”