WILL BREXIT BE GOOD FOR FREELANCERS?

Considering the number of column inches dedicated to Brexit, we are still no clearer to understanding the true impact of the most divisive decision the UK has made in decades. Freelancers have been largely overlooked in conversations about how British businesses and workers will be affected post-Brexit. Taking into account the number of freelancers who have clients in the EU, regularly provide professional services throughout Europe and contribute billions to the UK economy, it’s no wonder the self-employed community are a little on edge. 

For many freelancers, the impact is already being felt. Last summer, The Creative Industries Federation produced a guide stating how creative businesses should tackle Brexit. It detailed how in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU “some firms (are) already moving parts of their company abroad to continue to benefit from the EU.” The Federation also found that “21% of creative businesses said they would consider moving to another country in the case of no-deal.”

Two months prior, a survey published in The Independent online revealed how “90% of employers (in creative businesses) are struggling to find the staff they need, and two-thirds believe the skills gap will either fail to improve or get worse post-Brexit.” So, the effects are slowly taking hold and while half of the UK may not like it, it’s time to start planning for a post-Brexit Britain. To help shed some light on what may unfold, we’ve compiled a few ways that Brexit may impact freelancers once it becomes final and what to consider as we enter a new era.

Free Movement

Woman at airport

Changes surrounding ‘free movement’ are no doubt what many freelancers are most worried about. As many have clients in Europe and often travel for work, the thought of new restrictions is terrifying. Up until now our freedom as Brits to work anywhere within the EU has been a great way to conduct business overseas, but there’s a possibility that we may soon require a visa if we reach a no deal verdict. Getting a visa or a work permit is expensive, takes time and prospective EU clients will be less inclined to engage with British freelancers.

Bear in mind that nothing has been confirmed yet and the UK could strike a deal with Europe to allow free movement and work. Switzerland is not a part of the EU and the country accepts freedom of movement with the EU, due to the Swiss having access to the EU's single market. This, albeit less likely as the deadline approaches, could be a potential deal for the UK.

Increased Airfares

Plane in the sky.

Travelling to European countries has been affordable with budget airlines for a number of years. Pair that with the Eurostar and freelancers have always had cheap access to Europe’s main cities. According to Travel Supermarket, leaving the EU with no deal in place could cause an increase in flight costs - yikes! This is down to the pound to dollar rate being low and air-fuel being priced in US dollars. Express Online reports that because of the altered exchange rate, British travellers already get less for their Sterling when travelling to Europe.

Sadly, travelling to Europe after Brexit comes with more bad news, as it’s a possibility that flights may be grounded after the UK leaves the EU in March. An article from last Autumn by The Independent stated that “flights will be grounded if Britain crashes out of the EU next March unless an emergency aviation deal can be struck.”

EU Accreditation

The EU flag

Due to being in the EU, UK businesses who are accredited to do business in the UK can freely conduct business in any EU country. With Brexit just around the corner, this may change and UK businesses may need additional accreditation that is recognised within the EU. Freelancers or self-employed people who run their own businesses will also be affected by this.

Another potential threat to UK businesses is the loss of access to the single market. The EU freedoms of granting the movement of goods, capital and services within the EU is vital when conducting business abroad and could possibly be gone by the time that Brexit is implemented. So, if you source materials from an EU country for your business, expect prices to rise substantially after Brexit.

Freelance Workforce Boom

Co-working space for freelancers.

Design Week reported that when the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019 there will be a “21-month ‘transition period’ where the UK government, citizens and businesses can retain their existing rights while they adjust to the new rules.” which is expected to end on 31st December 2020. During this period, it is anticipated that the hiring of freelancers and contractors will vastly increase. Business Leader explains that one positive for freelancers in this Brexit mess is the possibility of companies hiring British freelancers instead of permanent non-UK citizens until they know for certain how they’ll be affected by Brexit.

This is the same story of the infamous 2008 recession which caused a massive boom in the number of freelancers and self-employed people being hired. This is paired with it being much harder for EU citizens to enter the UK to work. The Daily Mirror states that after the 31st December 2020, EU citizens would need a work visa before arriving to live in the UK.

The outcomes for freelancers all depend on how exit negotiations are completed, so a soft Brexit and a good deal is what we are hoping for.

For now, freelancers should keep an open mind and continue doing what they do best. Hustle.

References

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/no-deal-brexit-uk-britain-eu-flights-plane-green-card-latest-final-say-pet-passport-a8553051.html

https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/952331/brexit-news-europe-flights-will-holiday-cost-rise

https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/12-18-november-2018/draft-brexit-deal-how-it-could-affect-designers-and-creative-businesses/

https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/27-august-2-september-2018/prepare-for-no-deal-brexit-now-says-creative-industries-federation/

https://news.sky.com/story/why-the-clock-is-ticking-for-swiss-in-eu-treaty-talks-11565976

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/eu-citizen-registration-settled-status-12747414

https://www.businessleader.co.uk/how-will-brexit-affect-contractors-in-the-uk/58749/

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