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What Future for Freelancing in the UK?
by Andy White at 20:45 24/02/03 (Conference Papers)
Freelancers are invited to contribute comments to this online bullet point summary. Comments will be incorporated into a paper that I will be presenting at the House of Commons on 4th March 2003. The seminar will be chaired by Mark Prisk MP and will be attended by representative bodies with an interest in this sector.
What is a freelancer?

What defines them.

  • He sells his knowledge, not his skills;
  • He is in business, not a temporary employee;
  • He is responsible for his own training
  • He is independent of the client;
  • He has a particular specialist knowledge;
  • He is flexibile, mobile, with a creative way of problem-solving;
  • He is an entrepreneur.

Do you agree with this and/or are their other points that can be added that differentiate the freelancer?

Why is the freelancer important? - For the UK economy

  • Freelancing contributes to job creation and growth – without access to specialist skills companies will move overseas.
  • Freelancing is crucial to competitiveness – freelancers work worldwide and exposure to best practice ensures that companies can increase efficiency and innovation
  • Influence in Europe – The UK is unique in the number of freelancers. They travel throughout Europe and these trade links build relationships to the UK advantage

What other benefits do you consider that freelancers bring to the UK economy?

Why is the freelancer important? -For clients:

  • An opportunity to bring in the best people for specialist projects;
  • The ability to use people with cutting-edge skills without the need to continuously train up employees in-house;
  • The mobility of the freelancing community means that they are constantly exposed to best-practise, which they carry with them from project to project;
  • Experience – although the client might be facing the problem for the first time; the freelancer may have faced it – and solved it – elsewhere, thereby reducing the expense of a learning-curve or risk of getting it wrong;
  • No responsibility – there are no associated ‘employee’ costs with freelancers, eg sick pay, holiday pay;
  • Independence – freelancers are independent of large companies or particular products, so will use the best ‘tools’ for the project without being tied to a particular supplier
  • Expertise – freelancers are often leading experts in their particular field and that expertise benefits the employees they work along-side;
  • The overhead associated with the freelancer ensures they are cost effective
  • They are available on a “just in time” basis

What other benefits do you consider that freelancers bring to their clients?

Why is the freelancer important? - For the freelancer

  • The freedom to choose not to go the management route, to boost your salary, but to stay technical.
  • The freedom to invest in any training you like.
  • The freedom to take responsibility for your career.
  • The ability to travel and work
  • The excitement of building your own business

What else do you consider important in being able to choose to go freelancing?

What do freelancers want?

  • Clients that understand they operate as businesses and describe the contractual relationship such they can operate tax efficiently.
  • Clients to consider how to leverage better the strengths of freelancers such that procurement drives out cost and allows the UK talent to compete more effectively the growing threat from outsourcing
  • Agents that win business with freelancers through their service levels, not restrictive clauses
  • Government that recognises the importance of the freelancing sector and legislates wisely
  • Access to contracts within the public sector with best practice procurement to act as pathfinders for the private sector
  • Reduction in the cost and complexity of providing services throughout Europe
  • A clear and understandable legislative system that does not require recourse to expensive legal advice to operate within.
  • A clear definition of a knowledge based business and based on informed choice rather than a set of complex rules. with agreement through out Europe.

What else do you consider important?

Your comments will be incorporated into a paper that I will be presenting at the seminar. Organisations such as the CBI; representing clients and REC; representing agents have been invited, together with other trade associations and professional bodies such as the FPB, FSB, PCG, Intellect, IOD, ICAEW and IFS.

It is a real opportunity for freelancers to help shape the environment they operate within.

Please make your comments by 1700 on Thursday 27th Feburary

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Andy White

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