A new LFIG report calls for freelancing to be placed at the heart of the Labour party’s policy agenda. “Freelancers and the self-employed deserve to have their own policy agenda and framework” says Philip Ross author of the new Labour Finance and Industry Report entitled ‘The Freelancing Agenda’ and he suggests that. “Labour is a strong position now to lead on this agenda”.
The report, published on Monday 15th September, will be followed by a special fringe event launch at the Labour conference. It aims to construct a policy framework by proposing a charter for freelancing along with three other key policies designed to empower freelancers and bring them the recognition they deserve.
The report is published as a short booklet, it looks at the size of the freelance economy, the lack of definition and recognition that freelancing faces and the evolution of the market. The report recognises that freelancers range from precariat workers through to independent professionals but there is commonality between all the groups. It discusses the evolution of the freelancing market, the need for agency freelancers to use limited liability companies. It differentiates genuine freelancers from those using the model for tax avoidance and those in forced self employment. One of the recommendations includes a well thought out proposal to create a special freelancer limited company (FLTD) which it suggests will allow some of the onerous and unachievable requirements of IR35 to be toned down.
The LFIG report has been written with Prof. Andrew Burke who holds the Bettany Chair and is the founding Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield University. Philip Ross is a former freelancer and a well known writer and activist on freelancing issues. He is a member of LFIG and the author of the book about the founding of the PCG – Freedom to Freelance.
Philip Ross, explains “the report was able to build on both our personal experience and professional knowledge of the freelancing industry and has been supplemented by meetings with freelancer groups, trade associations and trade unions”.
“We have spoken to actors, journalists, artists, pharmacists, IT workers, management consultants, construction workers, teachers, film and television workers, agencies, accountants, tax specialists and more besides”.
“For too long policies of all parties have focused on the extremes of the freelance economy, tax avoidance on one hand and forced self employment on the other. This report focuses on the forgotten middle, genuine freelancers, a market that is as broad as it is wide. It offers a proactive agenda as opposed to reactionary one that will help freelancing flourish.
The report offers the chance for Labour to seize the initiative and clearly differentiate itself as the most progressive and innovative party in this area”.
“The key message from the report is for policy makers to take freelancing seriously, and we have named the report ‘The Freelancing Agenda’ because it is about starting that debate and discussion around freelancing issues and what needs to be done”
The report and recommendations are centred on a radical and innovative Freelancers’ Charter.
Philip Ross says “The objective of the Charter is to provide a platform or operating model upon which future policy can be developed for freelancers. Such that one could consider individual polices to be the Apps that would operate on the platform.”
“Just as Apple wrote the platform and got others to write the apps, our aim with the report is to provide a platform upon which others can engage and be empowered and develop policies”
“We have made a start too and issued the report with a few of our own policies or Apps and these include the creation of a Freelancing Limited Company and the appointment of a Minister with direct responsibility for freelancers. We’d encourage other organisations and groups to develop their apps or policies to work from the platform.”
“We have adopted this approach because we acknowledge that freelancing has a wide constituency with independent professionals at one end and precariat workers at the other. We wanted to create a platform to enable others to innovate on”.
“Above all, the Freelancing Agenda aims to kick start a proper and informed debate to help Labour build a new economy that recognises and levers the power of the freelancers and the self employed to deliver prosperity”.
“I know it has radical elements, the voice of freelancers and the self-employed need to be heard and this and report set to empower them and the enable a future Labour government to deliver for them”. Says Philip
Download the report (PDF)