I’m a freelancer working in IT, do I need insurance?
IT is one of the most popular sectors for freelancers to work in, and it’s easy to see why. Freelancing in IT allows you to be your own boss, set your own hours, and select the projects that are most interesting to you. You can also charge a premium for those in-demand specialist skills. Whether you’re a programmer, developer, technician or project manager, freelancing is a great way to build a career as an IT professional. But freelancing in IT is definitely different to working as an employee. With no set hours and no micromanaging, you’ll need to be self-disciplined and organised. You’ll also be working without the same protections that you would have as an employee, so freelance IT gurus would be wise to consider taking out business insurance.
Do I have to have business insurance?
In short, when you’re working freelance, anything that goes wrong is on you, and that might include big pay-outs to put things right, as well as arranging legal defence and fees. While most freelancers try to have a bit of a surplus for emergencies or quiet periods, that is unlikely to be enough to cover the costs if one of your clients tries to sue you or a member of the public is harmed in the course of your work. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what different types of cover are available to protect you and your freelance IT business.
Professional indemnity insurance for IT freelancers
Professional indemnity is the insurance that will protect your work and reputation as an IT freelancer. This covers things like mistakes in your work, negligence, copyright breaches and “bad advice” – when you make recommendations to your clients that turn out to be the wrong call. If your client thinks that an error you’ve made in your work has cost them money, they can try to claim against you for recovery of the costs and compensation. Even if you believe you’ve done nothing wrong, you would still be left with the cost and hassle of finding legal representation to defend yourself against the claims. If you have professional indemnity insurance from Dinghy, we can provide an expert legal team to fight your corner, and cover compensation costs awarded to the other side, up to the limit of your policy.
Example claim: You advise a customer to switch their web hosting and their new provider turns out to be much slower, costing them revenue as people navigate away from the site to go elsewhere and abandon their online baskets. They bring a claim against you for the loss of business and revenue that your bad advice has caused.
Public liability insurance for freelancers in IT
For IT professionals who work out and about, at clients’ premises, in co-working spaces or even if you’re partial to the odd cappuccino-fuelled coding session in your local cafe, public liability insurance is an essential. Public liability cover is there to protect the people around you and their property. If someone is injured or equipment damaged in the course of your work, you might find yourself liable for compensation claims. If you’ve got public liability insurance to cover your freelance work, then your policy can step in to provide a legal defence and money to put things right with the people you’ve harmed.
Example claim: You’re doing the rounds of the offices of a big client, making sure all their computers are running the latest operating system and updates, and you leave your bag in the gangway of the office. A member of the client’s staff trips over your gear, breaks their arm and requires time off work to recover. Public liability insurance would step in here to cover any compensation owed to the injured party. If you didn’t hold it, you’d potentially be looking at big legal bills and a demand for compensation that you are unable to pay.
Gadget and equipment insurance
To do your work effectively, you need the tools of your trade such as laptops, tablets and a smartphone. These items can be easily lost, stolen or damaged, and are expensive to replace. Getting insurance cover for your business equipment is a smart move, and Dinghy’s business equipment insurance protects your gear worldwide. We’ve got a 24/7 claims hotline and can courier you a replacement device within 24 hours, or put the cash in your bank account if we can’t get to you. Because we know how important it is that you can keep working, any piece of equipment that’s owned by your business can be covered.
Example claim: Your work laptop gets stolen from your home office. Thieves smash a window to get in and take it, but it’s owned by your business so your standard home insurance policy won’t cover it. If you don’t have business equipment insurance, the cost of getting a new one will have to come out of your earnings or savings. With Dinghy, we’ll make sure you can get back to work as soon as possible.
All IT professionals will recognise the risks of this growing area of criminal activity, and many will have seen first-hand the sorts of situations that cyber liability insurance is there to protect against. No matter how careful or clued up you are, ever more sophisticated scams are at work which can mean loss of access to your equipment or systems, and corruption or theft of data (yours and your clients). Cyber liability insurance from Dinghy is there to help you get back up and running again quickly and securely, with access to dedicated 24-hour help and cyber incident reporting service ReSecure. We’ll also protect your freelance IT business against the financial and operational impacts of an attack, including ransomware demands, restoration of data, business interruption due to cyber attack and regulatory defence and penalties.
Example claim: You’re pretty good at spotting the obvious scams and keeping your security tight by installing the latest updates. Unfortunately, one of your passwords gets leaked online and your laptop is held by ransomware, including the latest jobs you were working on. With cyber insurance, you’ll be supported through the process of getting your systems back online safely.
What’s more, all Dinghy Professional Indemnity policies come with Freelancer Assist, a package of support services for freelancers going it alone. Get help chasing your overdue invoices and consult the tax helpline to check if IR35 applies to you. Dinghy can support IT freelancers with all of the above insurance cover, in a flexible package tailored to suit freelance life. You can use our app so that you’re in control of your cover, 24/7. Policies are billed monthly with no hidden fees or charges, and, when you’re not working, you can switch your cover onto lite mode, saving you money between jobs or when you’re taking some time off. To get your own quote for IT insurance for freelancers, take a quick click over to the Dinghy website.
The insurance cover you should consider as a student freelancer
Student life has changed a lot over the years. With tuition fees higher than ever, and graduate career prospects uncertain, more and more students are making the smart move to start grafting while they study. Freelancing as a student can be a great way to earn some extra cash to support yourself – those student loans never seem to last very long – put into practice some of the skills you’ve learnt on your degree program and develop experience in your chosen field. It can also help you to learn a little bit about business management, show that you’re a self-starter who can work independently and take initiative. All of these things are going to look great on that graduation CV!
But what freelancing students might not know is that running a business – even a small one with just a few clients – comes with personal and financial risks. What if a client is unhappy with the work you’ve produced? What if you accidentally injure someone in the course of your work? What if your laptop is hacked and clients’ data stolen?
When you work for an employer, their business insurance covers any mistakes that you might make in the course of your work. Likewise, if any accidents happen – it won’t be your responsibility to fix it. However, when you work freelance, it’s another matter entirely. As a business owner, you are responsible for actions undertaken in the course of your work. When things go wrong, it’s you that has to put it right. This can often involve large sums of money that a student loan just won’t cover.
That’s why smart freelancers get business insurance. For a small monthly fee, you can take out cover that protects you and your business against these risks. Dinghy business insurance has been developed especially for freelancers – designed to offer you flexibility, freedom and security. In this guide, we run through the key types of business insurance we think self-employed students need to run a first-class freelancing business.
Professional indemnity insurance – protecting your work and your reputation
From an errant typo that means a client has to reprint their sales brochure to an accusation of defamation, there are lots of things that can potentially go wrong when you’re freelancing as a student. If a client incurs a loss as a result of your actions, your work, or your advice, they might try and bring a claim against you. Professional indemnity insurance is there to cover the costs of putting things right and can provide you with an expert legal team to fight your corner, so you can concentrate on your studies and keep working.
Public liability – protecting those around you and their belongings
No one sets out to injure people or destroy their property when they’re undertaking freelance work – but it can and does happen. If a customer in a coffee shop trips over your laptop cord and breaks their arm, you might become liable for compensation to put things right. If you have public liability insurance from Dinghy, we will get our team on the case and provide cover between £1million – £5million depending on the needs of your business.
Gadget and equipment insurance – protecting your gear
Uni halls and houses are often a target for thieves, as they know you’re likely to have up-to-date and expensive tech. But your gadgets aren’t there for show – they’re vital for you to do your job. Any equipment that is solely owned by your business can be covered by Dinghy’s business equipment insurance: laptops, smartphones, cameras, instruments, or anything else that’s essential for your work. With this worldwide cover, Dinghy will replace any lost or stolen items within 24 hours or get the cash straight to your bank account.
Cyber insurance – protecting your data and systems
The idea of your laptop being held hostage by ransomware is enough to make any student wake up in a cold sweat. As a freelancer, there’s an extra level to the nightmare – it’s not just your own data and privacy you need to worry about, it’s that of your clients too. Dinghy’s cyber insurance cover is an optional add-on that provides access to ReSecure, a specialist cyber incident reporting service, who can help you get your systems up and running again. Because your freelance business doesn’t have its own IT department, our cyber insurance for freelancers also covers costs for ransom demands, restoration of data, business interruption and legal defence and fines if you’re accused of committing any regulatory breaches.
Freelancer Assist – helping you through
As an added bonus, all Dinghy freelance insurance policies come with Freelancer Assist. Just like the student services at your uni that support you through your studies, Freelancer Assist is a helpful sidekick through your freelancing journey. As well as access to legal, tax and counselling helplines, we can help you chase unpaid invoices from clients who are reluctant to pay.
Getting signed up to Dinghy insurance couldn’t be easier. Simply fill in the quick form on our website with a little bit of info about you and your freelancing work, and we’ll email a no-obligation quote straight to your inbox. Our cover is super-flexible – in fact we bill by the minute – so you can dial down your policy when you’re not working to save cash (for example, if you’re busy with exams or taking a trip), then pay monthly for the level of cover you have used with no hidden fees or charges. If you install our handy Apple or Android app, you can manage your cover on-the-go, dialling it up and down to match your ever-changing workloads.
A graduate’s guide to becoming a freelancer
Hey, congratulations, scholar! Donning that cap and gown and finally getting your mitts on that degree certificate is a huge rite-of-passage. But amidst the champagne, proud parents and tearful goodbyes, there’s also that niggling feeling: oh my goodness, what do I do next?
If your time at uni is nearly over, you’ll be starting to consider your next career move. Will it be a graduate programme, an internship, an entry-level job, or volunteering for some experience? Do you want a job that uses what you’ve learnt in your degree, or to step into something new entirely? Perhaps you’d prefer something a little more flexible? If you’re a graduate looking to get into freelancing, you’re in the right place. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get set up and ready to fly solo!
Why consider freelancing?
If graduate schemes seem too rigid and internships too poorly paid, freelancing might be for you. When you’re a freelancer, you can be your own boss and work the hours that suit you. You can invest in training for yourself and get to keep all the money you earn through your hard work (after tax). Once you’ve gained enough experience, freelancers can typically earn a higher rate of pay than you would in traditional employment. We have to be honest though – it’s not for everyone. You have to find your own work and if you have a quiet month with no projects on the go, you aren’t getting paid. Particularly when you’re first starting out and building up a client base, this can be a risk. However, as you get more established as a freelancer, recommendations, referrals and regular clients can help you stabilise your income.
Decide on your area of work
From writing to photography, social media to IT, there are many areas in which to get freelancing. You might already have an idea of what you want to do, and have a portfolio built up from your degree or part-time work. Or you could start out as more of a generalist, and try some different things until you hone down your niche. Whatever you want to do, it’s a good idea to gather together some examples of your work – whether that’s articles written for your university paper, animations produced for your final degree projects, or a website you built for your dad’s plumbing business – to show off your skills to potential clients.
Decide on your services and rates
Once you know what skills you’ve got to offer, it’s time to work out a pricing strategy and exactly what the services are that you’ve got to sell to clients. Setting your rates can be tricky, especially when you’re just starting out. What you charge should reflect your experience and qualifications. Too high and clients might not want to take the risk on someone without a proven track record. Too low and clients might not take you seriously or may expect you to continue working for rates that are actually not enough for you to live on. You’ll also need to do some research into your chosen industry to see what average rates are. We’ve put together a handy guide to setting your rates as a freelancer if you want some tips on pricing strategy.
Set up a website and LinkedIn or social media channels
Once you know what you’ve got to offer – it’s time to shout about it! It’s a good idea to set yourself up with a website. As a minimum, this should offer a bit of info about you and your experience, some links to samples of your work, and a way for potential clients to get in contact with you. Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a list of our top 10 website builders for freelancers. Make sure you set up a business email as well. No one wants their next project managed by “sunshinegirlY2K” or “lager_lad_01”. LinkedIn can be a really great source of potential clients and recommendations from others, so it’s worth setting up a profile there if you haven’t already. You might also decide to set up other social media accounts depending on the type of services you’re offering – illustrators and photographers will probably want a visual platform like Instagram, whereas wannabe journalists and writers might want to join the conversation on Twitter. For more tips, check out the Dinghy guide to building your social media following as a freelancer.
Get some training
To make sure you’re set up and ready to go as a freelancer, you might want to do a quick knowledge audit. Try and map out what skills, knowledge and experience you already have in your chosen area, and identify any gaps. Where there are topics that you feel you need to know more about, you could invest in some training to support you in those areas. Face-to-face training courses are fun to attend and you’ll learn a lot, but they can also be pricey. Online training is now widely available on a huge range of topics, and are much more reasonably priced for those just starting out. You can even train yourself from YouTube videos or TikTok, if you know the right accounts to follow!
Join a freelancing community
Freelancing is a lot of fun, but it can also be lonely, especially after the camaraderie of a degree course. If you’re feeling out of the loop, you could try joining a freelancing community. These can be great sources of support and advice on everything from sending invoices to finding clients. There are lots of generic freelancing communities out there, as well as ones dedicated to specific fields.
Get freelance business insurance
When you work for an employer, they have business insurance which protects you if you make a mistake as part of your job, or if someone gets hurt. Unfortunately, when you’re a freelancer, you’re unprotected and can be held liable for negligence that costs your client money or accidents that cause someone to be injured. This could cost lots of money to put right – money that most freelancers simply don’t have. The best way to keep yourself safe from these risks as a freelancer is to make sure you’ve got business insurance. There a two main types of business insurance that freelancers should consider:
- Professional indemnity insurance – this protects you and your clients in the event that something’s wrong with your work. This can include things like copyright breaches, liable, negligence and giving bad advice.
- Public liability insurance – this protects the people around you and their property if anyone gets injured or damaged as a result of your actions at work.
Dinghy also offers some extra insurances for further peace of mind for freelancers: business equipment insurance to protect your essential gadgets and cyber insurance to support you in the event that you become a victim of cyber crime like a ransomware attack or phishing scam. Find out more about the different types of insurance that we recommend to freelancers. What’s more, all Dinghy policies come bundled with Freelancer Assist, a unique service that will give you access to tax, legal and counselling support and help you chase unpaid invoices. Because Dinghy insurance is designed specifically with freelancers in mind, we offer flexible, pay-monthly plans which you can pause at any time when you’re not working – ideal for freelancers just starting out. You can find out more or get a quote on our website. Good luck out there graduates…the adventure is about to begin.
What insurance cover should I consider as a freelance writer?
We know that as a freelance writer, self-employed business insurance might fall down your list of priorities. You’d rather concentrate on the words – not worry about the “what ifs” of a freelancer lifestyle – but as a creative professional, you’ve also got to understand the risks that you’re taking on when you produce written content for clients.
Freelancing is common in the world of professional writing, with many people entering into contracts with clients without properly protecting themselves financially. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the most useful types of business insurance for writers – so that you can ensure your freelance career is more “happily ever after” than “dark and stormy night”.
Professional indemnity insurance for freelance writers
You draft carefully, edit ruthlessly and proofread meticulously before sending any of your work to your clients. But even with the best of intentions, mistakes can still happen. Whether it’s an errant typo that means your client has to get their entire run of leaflets reprinted or an unintentionally libellous comment that gets posted in a blog, a career in freelance writing does leave you exposed to legal risks and hazards.
Professional indemnity insurance is there to protect you and your client in these instances. It will cover legal fees and any compensation/damages awarded for cases of professional negligence that have cost your clients money, such as:
- Copyright breaches – where your work might appear unintentionally too similar to something else that’s out there, or you’ve forgotten to reference your sources.
- Defamation, liable and slander – if your words damage the reputation of someone or cause them distress or harm.
- Mistakes and negligence – when you’ve made factual errors or typos in your copy.
Find out more here about what professional indemnity insurance covers.
Public liability insurance for freelance writers
Although they say the pen is mightier than the sword, no one really thinks of writing as a particularly dangerous activity – but when you’re running a small business, hazards exist whenever you’re working in contact with the general public. That’s why public liability insurance is a must for anyone who writes on-the-go.
When you are not required to work in a client’s office, you may favour getting your creative juices flowing by people-watching from the corner of a cafe, holing up in a public library or joining in the chat in a co-working space. In all these circumstances, as you are acting in a business capacity you need to seriously consider public liability insurance – as your home contents insurance is unlikely to protect you.
A public liability policy will protect the people around you if an accident happens when you’re working outside the home, in a client office or elsewhere – for example, if a fellow customer trips over the cable of your laptop in a coffee shop, or if you spill your drink over a fellow freelancer’s MacBook in a co-working space.
It will cover legal fees and compensation if people are injured or their property damaged as a result of the activities of your business. Many clients also ask for this protection as part of their standard freelancer contract, so it helps ensure that you are meeting your contractual obligations. Find out more here about what public liability insurance covers.
Gadget and equipment insurance for freelance writers
From quills to typewriters, writers have long been associated with the romantic tools of their trade. Nowadays, while you might have a favourite notebook and pen, you will almost certainly be filing most of your articles, blogs and copy electronically. Without your laptop or tablet, it would be impossible for you to carry on working.
That’s why Dinghy offers all our freelancers the opportunity to protect those essential gadgets with our business equipment insurance. We will cover any piece of equipment that is owned by your business – anywhere on the planet – and we offer a guarantee of replacement or cash in your bank within 24 hours to minimise the disruptive effect on your workload.
Cyber liability insurance for freelance writers
With your client databases, briefs, and confidential emails, freelance writers are probably holding onto a lot more sensitive data than they realise. Small businesses are an increasing target for cyber attacks because they don’t have the infrastructure of a larger company.
Ransomware – where your systems are held captive until you pay a large sum of money – can be particularly devastating to freelance writers. It might mean you don’t have access to your files and can’t work while your computer is held hostage. Cyber liability insurance helps to mitigate against these risks, offering you help with ransomware demands, restoring your systems and recovering data, as well as regulatory fines that might be incurred.
Because we know that working as a freelance writer can sometimes feel like a little bit of a solitary activity, Freelancer Assist comes bundled at no extra charge with every Dinghy insurance policy. It makes sure you’re not alone by giving you access to a support package, including legal, tax and counselling helplines.
Freelance writers are also especially vulnerable to unpaid invoices: IPSE estimates that freelancers in the creative industries are owed an average of £5,400 a year in unpaid invoices! Freelancer Assist offers an invoice-chasing service, where we can help you recover unpaid debts of £200 or more, helping you get paid and freeing you up to pursue more work.
Insure your freelance writing business today
Dinghy insurance can offer freelance writers all the cover and benefits described above, in a special flexible package that’s tailored to the needs of freelancers. It’s cover that you can dial up and down at the click of a button; perfect for those times between assignments or when you’re taking some leave. It’s cover that you can manage via our app, making it easier than ever to take charge of your business insurance. And it’s cover that you can pay monthly with no hidden fees or charges.
Freelance writers can get sorted with their small business insurance today by heading to our website for a quote straight to your inbox.
How can freelancers deal with scope creep?
You may not have heard of the term “scope creep”, but if you’ve been freelancing for any length of time, you’ve almost certainly experienced it. It starts off as a little ask. “Could you just…?” It seems reasonable enough, so you do it. Then it develops into more work: could you sit in on that meeting? Could you incorporate this new data? Could you present this to our partners? It’s often flattering to be so in demand from a client, but when these requests come without any consideration of the extra time it will take you and without any mention of additional payment, then you’re dealing with scope creep.
The term “scope creep” comes from the world of project management, and is used by freelancers to describe a situation where the client keeps expanding the parameters of the job or asking for additional work that wasn’t in the original brief, without offering payment for the extra time that this will take you. This blog is our guide as to how freelancers can spot scope creep, what you can do to avoid it, and how to manage it when it arises.
Work to a clear brief and contract
As with so much of freelancing life, a lot of headaches can be avoided if you lay the groundwork for preventing scope creep while the job is still in the negotiation stage. Make sure you get a clear brief from the client, and that this is quantifiable in its limitations (e.g. you will design a 10-page website, produce 40 edited photos, write a 1,000-word report, or that you will work an agreed number of days on the project). Set out the job and each side’s responsibilities in a contract which both parties should sign. You can even include a clause in your contract that covers the eventuality of scope creep by specifying your rate (per hour or day) for any work that exceeds the parameters of the job. Even if you never have to use it, this is a helpful reminder to clients that your time has value and needs to be paid for. Dinghy has guides for freelancers on what to include in a freelancer contract and what to look out for in a client contract, so that you can make sure all bases are covered before you start a job.
Is the request reasonable?
Sometimes a request comes in and it seems like such a small job that you feel harsh to say no to it. If the request is reasonable and you can take care of it relatively quickly, the easiest thing to do might be to go ahead and do it. Indeed, many freelancers include a certain number of rounds of amends in their contracts, so that they have space to adapt the project to the client’s feedback, without this turning into an endless back-and-forth of spiralling work hours. Quick fix jobs or the odd short meeting appearance here and there may be acceptable in order to keep the client on side, but it doesn’t hurt to remind the client that this was outside the original brief and that in future you would be charging for your time. This helps the client out of their immediate need and shows a willingness to compromise, but also doesn’t let them take you for a ride. It’s tricky to find a balance between keeping clients happy and not being a doormat and working lots of hours for free – no one can afford to do that!
Respond to the request with a quotation
If the job looks to be getting bigger and bigger or a request is made that is obviously outside the scope of what was initially agreed, it’s best not to just do it for free. This sets up a dynamic in your relationship with the client where they expect you to undertake extra work for free, which is not a pattern that you want to encourage. Let your client know that, yes, you’d be delighted to help them, and this will be the fee for the extra work. Be polite but firm on this – a legitimate business should never ask a freelancer to do extra work for free. If they have a quote for the job, they can evaluate how much it’s worth to them and decide whether to give you the extra work (and money) or to sort out the problems in-house.
Just say no
If you’ve completed your assigned tasks and held up your end of the bargain, you’re completely within your rights to say no and refuse the extra work, especially if it looks like no further payment will be forthcoming, or you have work for other clients that needs taking care of. It can be nerve-racking saying no to a client, particularly if it’s someone that you are hoping to work with again. If you’re polite but firm, a good client will be respectful of your time and your need to earn a living.
Dinghy freelancer insurance is designed to have your back through the good times and the bad. Scope creep can make relationships with clients more tense and fraught than you would like. It’s just one reason why our freelancers say they feel more relaxed knowing that they have Dinghy insurance in place. If a client tries to complain that they have experienced loss or damage because of work you’ve done for them, having our Professional Indemnity insurance in place will give you peace of mind. If you need to chase unpaid invoices for work that you’ve had to take on for clients, our Freelancer Assist service can help to recover those debts on your behalf. To get set up, just head to our website where you can get a quote in minutes – no multiple rounds of amends needed!
How the 2021 budget might affect freelancers
We know that freelancing life can be hectic and busy – especially in the middle of a pandemic when you might be juggling work for clients with homeschooling children and trying not to develop a vitamin D deficiency. That’s why here at Dinghy we like to keep an eye on the news and make sure that we keep you in the loop with any important information that could affect freelancers, but that you might have missed. Last week saw the unveiling of the Chancellor’s 2021 Budget. With coronavirus restrictions still having a huge impact on businesses and many industries like hospitality, leisure and non-essential retail still in shutdown, this was another budget where recovery and support schemes featured heavily. Unsurprisingly, Sunak used a large portion of the budget to address the pandemic and its economic impacts. The good news for everyone is that the response is working. The third lockdown has significantly reduced case numbers, and we have now reached the milestone of over 20 million people in the UK having received the first dose of their vaccination. The Chancellor stated the priorities of his budget were to protect jobs and livelihoods, to support businesses, and to help rebuild the economy.
But what does this mean for freelancers? Many were left out of previous support schemes and will be anxious to see the economy start to reopen and their workloads pick up. Here’s the Dinghy guide to what was in the Budget this year, and how we think it might affect freelancers.
Supporting the economy
On the current state of the economy, the news wasn’t great. The economy has shrunk by 10% since the start of the coronavirus crisis and the pandemic has resulted in over 700,000 lost jobs. To try and minimise the effects of this on people and businesses, Sunak has pledged £407 billion of support for the economy over this year, last year and next year. The furlough scheme has been extended again, to run until the end of September. If you have a PAYE job alongside your freelancing, or employ yourself through your own limited company, you may benefit from this, but the furlough scheme was not designed for freelancers and self-employed, so many won’t be eligible.
New SEISS grants – including good news for new freelancers
Most freelancers should, however, be able to benefit from the new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants that were announced in the budget. The grant scheme has been running since last spring, and the Chancellor announced that it will continue into the 4th and 5th rounds of grants, extending the scheme to September in line with furlough. These are grants of up to 80% of average trading profit for each 3 month period, up to a total of £7,500 per grant – and although the money is taxable, you don’t have to pay it back in the future. Previous rounds of grants were a welcome relief and an essential source of income for many freelancers impacted by coronavirus, but they didn’t include everyone. In a major change to the scheme this time around, newly self-employed people may be eligible for the grants, providing they submitted a 19/20 tax return before the deadline. That means that if you weren’t eligible for support before, you may now be entitled to some cash. Full details are here, and the 4th round of the scheme will open in April.
No mention of IR35
While some people may have been holding onto the faint hope that the government would announce another last-minute delay of the IR35 reforms in the Spring Budget, there was no mention of it at all, so we can expect the controversial tax law reform to come into force on the 6th April as planned. If you are a freelancer working through your own limited company or personal services company (PSC) these “off-payroll working” rules may affect you, so make sure you understand the ins and outs of IR35 before the April deadline. If you’re a sole trader, these rules don’t apply to you, so don’t worry about them.
Loan scheme and business recovery
There was also more support announced in the budget for businesses of all sizes to help them recover from the impacts of coronavirus. Of particular note was a new Recovery Loan Scheme, £25,001 to £10 million available to help businesses of all sizes grow and expand to help the reopening of the economy. Businesses in industries that have been hardest hit, like hospitality, leisure, personal care and gyms, are also seeing £5 billion investment in the form of Restart Grants – a one-off cash grant of up to £18,000 to help businesses to reopen as restrictions lift (scheme currently running in England only). While this might not be of direct help to most freelancers, the more businesses that survive and are able to continue trading once lockdown ends, the more potential clients will be out there looking for freelancers to join them and support them in building back.
New work opportunities
As part of the government’s ambitions to rebuild the economy post-COVID, and to solidify the country’s economic independence post-Brexit, the Chancellor announced the creation of the first-ever UK infrastructure bank and 8 new ‘freeports’ across the UK. Working together with private enterprise and local governments, the infrastructure bank will help to finance projects that support regeneration and development, with a particular focus on green technologies like carbon capture and green transport links. This is hoped to replace some of the low-cost finance that might previously have come from EU funding schemes and should be good news for job creation, which we hope will include opportunities for freelancers.
So there you have it – another budget with a rather singular focus, as the government continues to try to pull the economy through the shock of COVID-19. With the vaccination programme underway, the Chancellor is optimistic about the shape of the recovery, forecasting 4% growth in 2021, with the economy forecast to return to pre-COVID levels by mid-2022. Unemployment is also set to peak lower than expected. As restrictions begin to lift and businesses start to reopen, we hope they will be looking to the flexibility and talent of freelance staff to help them get back on their feet.
The extension of the SEISS grant will be welcome news to freelancers still struggling with low levels of work, or whose industries have been shut down, and it is fantastic news that new freelancers, who have been left out of previous rounds of support, can now claim a grant to help them along. Make sure you’re well placed to take on new opportunities as they arise by checking that your business insurance is up to date. Dinghy’s policies are tailored to freelancers and you can get all your cover in one flexible package, that you can turn on and off with the ups and downs in your workflow. For a quick, no-hassle quote, head to our website or give us a call on 0116 380 5654.