Our message to The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills: “Value freelance builders!”

Our message to The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills: “Value freelance builders!”

12th February 2013 | David Jackson

‘The Economic Role of Freelance Builders in the Construction Sector’ is the title of a research document that was discussed recently at Westminster by the Business Panel I attend – in company with a number of senior civil servants – to review employment law challenges.

The key conclusions of this report are:

  • The economic effectiveness of the construction industry depends on freelance builders/labour-only subbies
  • Freelance builders should be accepted as legitimate workers in their own right
  • When contracted lawfully (as they are through Hudson Contract) the issue of bogus self-employment does not arise.

Our guest speaker was Andrew Burke, Professor of Economics at Cranfield University and Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship. I first met Professor Burke in 2009, after attending the Cranfield School of Management, and appreciate how he has now become the leading authority on freelance workers. That’s not simply my view: his expertise is recognised by the Government, the Labour Party and the Professional Contractors Group.


The nub of Professor Burke’s second edition analysis was determined from interviewing over 40 firms and considering the workplace circumstances of over 700 labour-only subbies, most of whom were seen on-site. “Ground-up research”, as Andrew described the nature of the research he presented.

The important part of the report for me, of course, was the legitimate status of labour-only subbies when viewed as freelancers.

To paraphrase Professor Burke: “Freelance builders are not failing entrepreneurs, or tax dodgers or exploited or disguised employees.”

Furthermore, “A legitimate freelance proportion of the construction workforce should be seen as a valuable asset to construction firms, essential as a driver of economical performance and recovery. Freelance builders are completely ethical where lawfully contracted and without any tax loss to the Treasury when taxed under CIS.”

In short: Value Freelance Builders – frame that statement and nail it to the office walls of the decision makers!

Download the Executive Summary           Download the Full Report

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