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Backing Britain's Independent Professionals

Posted by: Tom Webb-Skinner 4 Mar 14 - 12:20PM  | Recruitment

PCG (The Freelancer's Association) released an article yesterday about the place that non-permanent workers have to play in the economy, saying "freelancers contributed £95 billion to business turnover in 2013 while our study of freelancing across Europe have shown it to be the fastest growing sector of the European Labour Market."

The Chairman of PCG, Julie Stewart, has written to George Osborne to suggest ways in which the Budget could support freelance and contract workers, "growth must be cemented by creating a regulatory and tax environment that will better support the UK’s smallest businesses" she says.

Contractors make up a huge part of our business at Jonathan Lee Recruitment so we spoke to the man who looks after our contractors, Aftersales Manager, David Powers, about his views.

Having worked in the contract recruitment arena for longer than I care to remember, I am a big advocate of all things pro freelancer/contractor.

I have experienced first-hand the excellent work and results that these hard working, focussed people generate and also seen and experienced some of the harshest of times when contracts have been terminated en masse and on the eve of a Christmas break! Not the best of presents!

As a result, I have a great deal of respect for anyone prepared to take the plunge and go it alone. To give up the protection and shelter of permanent employment, the benefits of paid holiday or company pensions, is not an easy step to make and is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Organisations such as the PCG play an important part in representing the contribution and the needs of the freelancer population. The pre-budget letter written by Julie Stewart covers some broad and some more specific issues impacting on the freelance community, all valid and all worth consideration.

Of particular interest to me is the point made about late payment and the subsequent risk to freelancers. Credit control is a challenge for any business and I suspect that very few businesses, irrespective of their size have been fortunate enough to avoid a bad debt during the last recession. Nevertheless, this is what being in business is about. There is an element of risk and there will always be money at stake. Indeed, the IR35 legislation considers financial risk one of its key measures when assessing the status of a freelancer operating through their own personal service company.

So this leads me to where recruitment businesses fit in to the supply chain. Like it or not, most recruitment businesses can undoubtedly increase the amount of opportunities available to freelancers/contractors but just as importantly, they can act as a buffer and facilitator for far better payment terms. I suspect that a five day turnaround from receipt of invoice to payment would be almost impossible for most businesses utilising a freelancer directly!

A constructive and productive partnership with a trusted and reputable recruitment partner can not only eradicate the hassle of credit control but also minimise the risk of late payment and bad debt.

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