The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has responded to the prime minister’s press conference, 5 July, saying the full re-opening of the economy expected on 19 July will be a “huge relief” to many freelancers – particularly in the events and creative industries.

However, IPSE has also warned that the sheer financial damage to the self-employed sector means this must not be the end of Government involvement, and that it must monitor the situation of the worst-hit groups and be ready with a stimulus package to get them back on their feet.

Derek Cribb, the association’s CEO, said the month-long delay to opening in England up was a “serious blow” to freelancers – particularly in the creative and events industries. “The full reopening of the economy that is expected next month will be a huge relief to them,” he said. “For the rest of the self-employed sector, however, the final reopening of the economy may have less of an impact.

“The wider self-employed sector has been financially hammered by the pandemic: the total number of freelancers has fallen by a truly shocking 14%. Among those who remain, especially the million or so freelancers who were excluded from support (such as limited company directors), the spectres of accumulated debt and increased competition for contracts loom large.

Freelancers “vital for the recovery effort”

Cribb added that as in previous economic downturns, the flexibility and tenacity of freelancers will be “vital for the recovery effort”.

“If they are to play this part and drive the recovery, there may be a need for a targeted stimulus package for the worst-affected groups,” he added. “Government should monitor the situation of these groups and be ready to step in. The full reopening of the economy is very welcome, but because of the gaps in support and sheer damage to self-employment, this must not be the end of Government’s involvement.”