Investing in small businesses

Councils are the first line of support for building self-employed businesses back up after the pandemic. 

For many self-employed people, the pandemic has been not only a health crisis but also an income crisis. 

More than a million freelancers did not get financial support from government and IPSE research found one in four took on debt to get by while 27 per cent burned through all their savings. 

Now, much of our adult population has been vaccinated and we are past ‘Freedom day’, but the financial damage is still there – especially for freelancers. 

Our surveys found two out of five freelancers believe it will take more than a year for their business to recover, and one in five say it will take more than two years. 

For many more, the financial damage was so severe it forced them out of freelancing altogether, driving the total number of self-employed down from five million to 4.2 million. 

This is also a sharp hit to businesses across the UK who rely on freelancers’ flexible expertise – especially in economic downturns. Make no mistake: the undermining of the freelance sector is a crippling blow to local economies across the country.

So, how do we restore this reservoir of freelance talent for local businesses? Well, one thing’s certain: this time the answer won’t come from central government grants. Programmes such as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme were enormously expensive and central government has firmly said no more will be coming. 

So, this time, the answer must come from local government investing in their areas’ smallest businesses. 

This is one area where IPSE can help. We have recently launched the IPSE Incubator – an innovative scheme to guide new freelancers through the first 12 months of self-employment and get their business off the ground. 

It offers templates, guides and advice on all you need to make it in freelancing. We’re already working with councils to fire up self-employment in their area. Find out if the IPSE Incubator could help your local area by emailing me, at victoria.rodwell@ipse.co.uk.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed is a not-for-profit association supporting self-employed workers, see www.ipse.co.uk

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