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Educating the policymakers about the economic value of the self-employed

David Jackson | 10th November 2015

This month sees the launch of a new international think tank, The Centre for Research on Self-Employment, which brings together those at the forefront of self-employment to provide a central research resource for policymakers and public alike.  Its chairman, Professor Andrew Burke, Chair of Business Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, is an acknowledged expert on freelance builders and the vital economic role they play.

This is excellent news for Britain’s army of self-employed workers, and especially freelance builders, because the think tank will help them gain the recognition they deserve.

“Professor Burke’s in-depth research into the construction industry clearly demonstrates that labour-only subbies enable contractors to maintain a flexible, cost-competitive workforce – and that today’s freelance builder is often tomorrow’s entrepreneur” comments David Jackson, Chairman of Hudson Contact and Chair of IPSE’s Construction Policy Advisory Committee.  “His work has been presented at the EU Commission, World Trade Association, HM Treasury, and in Parliament.  Now, as chairman of CRSE, he will be well placed to help policymakers properly understand the complexities and risks that those who chose to be self-employed take, and how vital they are to the UK economy.”

The latest monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics show construction output fell by 2.2% creating concerns that the industry has suffered a slowdown over the summer. However, recovery in any sector is never going to be in a straight line – and even more so in construction, where third party factors can have such an influence; weather is a key factor, and June’s strong winds followed by a wetter-than-average July and August have taken their toll.  This is where freelance builders help the construction industry . . . there are no overheads for the contractor when work is impossible, and equally, the self-employed will put in the hours to ensure deadlines are met, and contractors can take on extra labour as and when necessary.

With the government announcing it plans to spend £100 billion by 2020 on new roads, rail, flood defences and other vital projects and further details to come in this month’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review, it will be interesting to see what is said about the self-employed.

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With over 21,000 members, IPSE, the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, is the largest association of independent professionals in the EU, representing freelancers, contractors and consultants from every sector of the economy. It's a not-for-profit organisation owned and run by its members.

Flexibility in the labour market is crucial to Britain’s economic success, and IPSE dedicate their work to improving the landscape for the freelance way of working through an active and influential voice in government and industry.

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