Just in case you hadn’t heard, our Prime Minister has caused (yet another) uproar by cancelling the Brexit debate at the 11th hour. In response, Labour MPs have been stealing maces. And, John Bercow has pulled out all the stops with the word discourteous.
As anybody with even a smidgen of economic acumen could have predicted, the pound took a bit of a plunge against the dollar. As usual, media outlets were keen to describe how it was at its lowest since (insert date) because that always makes for an excellent headline unless said date was about two hours ago.
In a rather selfish way, I sometimes enjoy our temporary dips against the dollar. I’m not fussed about any other type of currency, mainly because the dollar is the one I’m usually paid in.
My burst of self-serving glee forced me into thinking about how Brexit could affect those of us who freelance overall. According to Consultancy UK, there’s around 2 million of us dotted around this island and the number will continue growing. So that’s a fair old chunk of the population facing uncertainty.
In the absence of any real ability to appraise political and economic forecasts as an expert, I’ve decided to take a dive into what others around the web are saying…
We can’t just up sticks and work wherever we like
At least not in the European Union. Although I love the freedom that comes with being a freelance writer, I’ve never had the desire to type away from a hotel room or a grotty cafe.
For those who would like to do this, the option is still there. If you’re spending a fleeting two weeks or so in a country, you can possibly continue working as though you’re a British citizen executing their usual duties abroad. Your taxpaying activities will still take place here in the UK. Your limitations, therefore, come from your ability to reside in the European countries that were previously without borders.
It’s also worth mentioning that the cost of flights is likely to increase. If you already lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle that involves jumping between different countries, you could find that doing so becomes a little more expensive. However, there is a way to work around this. Although you’ll have to accept the increase in flight prices while exiting the UK, you should find that flying on from other airports isn’t quite as traumatic. This is because the UK’s airport taxes are largely ridiculous anyway. While working as cabin crew I found that most of my colleagues tackled this issue by changing to a different aircraft via Dublin or Amsterdam. As someone who dreads the thought of missing a connection, I am yet to try this myself. But, it seemed to prove beneficial for my workmates who tried it, so consider using it as a post-Brexit tactic if you must.
If certain clients relocate, working on a contractor basis could become challenging
As a freelance copywriter, the majority of my clients are either in the United States or Australia. Yes, that makes for a rather hellish time difference balancing act. I’ve never had to visit someone onsite and I’m hoping that continues.
For those who work in certain industries, though, operating on a contractor basis could become difficult. It’s predicted that certain banks will take their business elsewhere, which could have a knock-on effect for freelancers operating in the financial sector following Brexit.
Potentially, freelancers could experience better pay following Brexit (at least temporarily)
As IPSE have highlighted, a reduction in the number of migrants entering the country could mean there’s a shortage of skills in certain areas. Again, I’m unlikely to see the benefits of this as my work is so digital.
Until the skill shortage rebalances, certain professionals could see a rise in demand for their services. With this rise in demand will come the opportunity to increase their rates, which will translate to a (likely temporary) boost in freelancing profits.
Maintaining your commitment to the gig economy within Europe may or may not become challenging
As a freelance writer, my work is borderless. I don’t need to travel to different parts of Europe to work, which means I don’t need to worry about any oncoming friction that’ll arise from a reduction in free border movement. As Barney Cotton points out, this isn’t the case for everyone.
Those who do depend on free movement between European states to carry out contractor work could find that their experience won’t remain as slick as it is right now. This could mean that taking on work at short notice becomes challenging, resulting in a more restrictive freelancing experience.
As research from Kensington Mortgages shows, the majority of UK freelancers don’t believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on their business. Depending on the area you work in, you could find that your day-to-day operations remain largely unchanged. However, as we belong to a group of individuals who already find securing loans and mortgages difficult, such activities could become harder still.
Hopefully, Ms. May will pay attention to John Bercow’s cries of being discourteous by following up with a meaningful debate and/or tangible plan.