Independent professionals may have to face the daunting prospect of dealing with their own tax affairs, marketing themselves and finding enough work to ensure that they are able to pay their bills, but the problems caused by a failure to have an effective infrastructure in place could be a bigger hurdle than any of those. Without the advantages that employees have, such as practical working spaces, effective broadband and mobile phone coverage, contractors, freelancers and other people who work for themselves are likely to find it hard to succeed on their own.
Given the scale of the independent workforce in this country and their importance to the UK economy, a failure to address the infrastructural issues could make it very hard for our country to continue to grow and prosper. With most contractors and freelancers rely on being able to work remotely, meaning that the government’s plans to ensure that 95 per cent of the population has broadband by 2017, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed are keen to encourage them to commit to universal coverage by 2020.
IPSE appreciate that such a huge undertaking might be better tackled in smaller stages, and are hopeful that the government will start with a guarantee that all new housing developments will have fibre-optic broadband included as standard. Unless they can demonstrate a lasting commitment to this level of provision, individuals who work for themselves will always be limited by the facilities available to them.
Rural broadband is one of the most concerning problems faced by independent professionals, with an incredible 85 per cent of rural micro businesses operating without superfast broadband. IPSE believe that requiring those who live more rurally to travel into the city in order to work with any degree of effectiveness decreases their potential for efficiency, costing them time and money that many can ill afford. However, London was recently found to have the worst broadband in Britain according to a recent survey, demonstrating that there is some serious work needed to bring the nation’s facilities up to a standard which would allow the UK to compete internationally.
Many independent professionals are also reliant on work hubs to provide them with an appropriate space for them to work, especially those who meet with clients and would prefer not to do so in their own home. However, with a third of those aged between 18 and 39 concerned that the cost of using such resources is prohibitive, then it appears that more work is needed to provide a practical solution to the problem of providing usable workspaces.
IPSE are encouraging the government to address issues such as these in order to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to continue the UK’s economic success.
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