PCG's Chairman, Julie Stewart writes:
If there is one New Year resolution I know I can keep, it is the promise that we will continue to work to ensure that throughout 2014 the growing army of freelancers, contractors and independent professionals are given every opportunity to flourish.
Politically, we have the Scottish Independence Referendum, the European Parliamentary Elections and of course the gloves will come off at Westminster as we prepare for next year’s General Election.
Momentous decisions on significant issues that will help shape our lives for the foreseeable future.
Throughout the political process PCG’s voice will be heard loud and clear as we engage with all the main political parties. We will continue to lobby in parliament, carry on exploring the important issues that freelancers face daily, and stay in touch with you, our members, to help further improve freelancing in the UK.
We intend to look at a wide range of policy areas in 2014 and pull them together into a manifesto for what we want to see the next Government of this country do post the General Election in May 2015.
As we continue to reenergise, reposition and rearrange things at PCG there are areas we will continue to explore:
We believe young people in schools, colleges and universities should be better equipped should they want to become independent professionals following full-time education.
Given that freelancing numbers have grown 20 per cent in the last five years to 1.72 million, and that the number of freelancers aged under 29 has increased by almost a quarter since 2011, it is not unrealistic to predict that these numbers will increase. Freelancing is a viable, fulfilling career and lifestyle choice, and we need to make sure education institutions are instilling this even more so in young people.
At the opposite end of the age spectrum, we must make sure independent professionals aged 65 years and over are recognised for their contributions to the recovery of UK plc.
With an ageing population, much credit should go to this age group, who continue to offer their expertise and commitment to SMEs and large organisations throughout the UK. Their role in the independent professional's contribution of Ł95 billion to the economy in 2012 should be applauded.
Lack of connectivity in the UK is an issue, which must be given serious thought this year. Poor internet connections and slow download speeds, especially in rural areas, is something freelancers are battling with every day.
We will lead a campaign to encourage government to roll out high-speed fibre optic broadband across the UK and make this a political priority. PCG will contact every Westminster MP to outline our concerns and call on them to back our campaign for better rural broadband.
Let’s get high-flying freelancers on the right track.
We must help freelancers to offer their very unique and flexible service throughout the UK. Better cost-effective transport links and more competitive airline fares – given the increase in contracts in Europe – need to be encouraged by politicians and transport providers.
Four out of ten freelancers are now women.
Freelancing is becoming an increasingly attractive option for working women, a growing proportion of whom are working mothers. We must make sure we get the message out that women working from home, who are finding the balance between work and home life, should not be forgotten, or undervalued.
And could we start a year without mentioning taxation? Sadly not.
The taxation system for freelancers is still a problem, but we haven’t forgotten this. Although we are exploring a number of new areas in freelancing, we are of course continuing to actively campaign for the issues that are still very problematic for independent professionals in the UK.
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2014