The nature of self-employed workers has come under a lot of scrutiny recently. Especially with the recent ruling in the Pimlico Plumbers case. But, at times, can the impact these big cases have on smaller companies and sole traders be overlooked?

Well, a recent article written by Real Business explores the idea that the government could actually be targeting the self-employed rather than supporting them.

In the UK, there are around five million people working as self-employed. Of these, it is believed that 1.6 million could actually be working in the gig economy. In fact, self-employment has been termed the ‘biggest con going’. Take a look at the full report on this here.

But, despite this, the government have been seen to be cracking down on major companies abusing the status of self-employed workers. Companies such as Uber and Deliveroo are just a couple of the large corporations that have come under the spotlight recently. But, what impact does this have on smaller business and sole traders.

Already, changes are being made to crackdown on this gig economy. For example, the alterations to IR35 off payroll working rules. Initially related to work done in the public sector, it is now being proposed that this should also be enforced in the private sector too. This would involve the company proving information that the individual being used for a job is self-employed. From their very first day working, a statement of rights will need to be given.

However, recent confirmation of this plan has been described as a ‘fatal blow’ to the flexible economy in the UK. And, since then, there have been reports that many large contractors have walked away from big public sector jobs.

Not only that, but there is also the issue of HMRC being unable to clearly define IR35 anyway. So, this is creating a pretty much impossible task for businesses. And, the full implications on tax won’t be known until tax returns are submitted at the beginning of next year.

Not only that, but there are also plans for ‘naming and shaming’ and fines too. Unions have also suggested that they want to give self-employed workers basic employment rights as well. This would include things such as sick pay and being able to claim unfair dismissal if they deem necessary.

The Real Business Article describes: “I have to wonder why it is that prime minister Theresa May and her cronies have come so far from their predecessors on support and understanding of both SMEs and the self-employed.”

“Far from being a nation of shop-keepers or privileged to have the small businesses which would help see Britain through the recession, as described by previous incumbents, the current occupants of No.10 instead seem to be more inclined to the view the self-employed aa nothing but a group of tax dodgers.”

“The majority of Brits turn to self-employment as a lifestyle choice and happily accept the disadvantages in return for that.”

“They pay the price of unreliable income and erratic hours in return for freedom.”

“The freelancer’s dream is to be outside the system; not tax dodging, but being in control of their own lives and responsible for themselves.”

“The self-employed of this country make their own way, without financial help from the government, and have always been something Britain can be proud of.”

“They have been the spawning ground of many a great business, creating millions of revenue in tax for the treasury and creating numerous jobs.”

“They relieve the government of the burden of many who would be otherwise out of work.”

“In the future, we will need this sector even more.”

“A staggering 10 million British jobs are expected to go in the next 15 years according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, predominately due to automation.”

“No one knows what the future will hold, but the only hope for those growing numbers of unemployed is to create new small businesses and find ways of supporting self-employment.”

“Instead, the self-employed find themselves burdened by requests for further information and special paperwork from public sector employers.”

“Many are scared that regular work of 1-2 days a week for a particular client may fall away under these new threats to their clients.”

“They feel the stain of an uncertain future.”

So what do you think? Are the self-employed being targeted rather than supported? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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