Brexit uncertainty hits UK gig economy, says IPSE survey

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A quarterly survey by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has revealed that four in 10 (42%) of UK freelancers say that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (Brexit) has already lowered their business performance in the third quarter of 2016. More than half (51%) expect it to do so next year.

The online questionnaire was conducted by IPSE and Upwork, a freelancing website, in September with 936 freelancers responding.

Freelancers, an increasingly large and important part of the UK workforce, are also concerned with the direction of the UK economy overall. Six in 10 (59%) report a negative outlook for the UK over the next 12 months, while 39% are specifically worried about their business performance.

However, a third (33%) of freelancers expressed confidence in their business performance for the next 12 months, compared to just 15% who were positive when last surveyed in Q2. This suggests that some of the gloom caused by Brexit may be dissipating.

Professor Andrew Burke, dean of Trinity Business School at Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland, produced a report on the findings that isn’t too optimistic, however, and commented that: “The negative impact of the outcome of the Brexit referendum has caused a massive decline in the performance and confidence in the freelance sector. The [previous] upward trend has been reversed.”

Chris Bryce, the IPSE chief executive’s take on the findings was sunnier. “Brexit gave freelancers pause for thought, but confidence may be beginning to return in their business outlook,” he said. “We want a post-Brexit Britain in which freelancers can thrive in. The imminent UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will be critical in returning confidence to the sector and we hope to see the government announce measures to support independent professionals.”

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