IPSE has urged government ministers to re-evaluate recent budget proposals that could be detrimental to the flexible workforce, stating that the self-employment sector is “absolutely crucial to the economic success of the UK”.

Recent data published by the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of contractors and freelancers has fallen by 131,000 to 4.47 million during the last 12 months, with experts calling for the government to do more to support and attract talented self-employed workers.

Last week’s budget announcement could force contractors to pay higher taxes compared to recent years, which may deter experienced specialists from embracing flexible work at a time when skills shortage are being keenly felt in IT, technology and online markets across the country.

While the fall in contractor numbers can be attributed to a stabilising of the current crop of flexible workers, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has called on the government to introduce legislation that recognises the value of self-employment, as this is key to meeting its long-term targets.

IPSE chief executive Chris Bryce said: “This sector is absolutely crucial to the economic success of the UK, and government should consider ways it can better support people who work for themselves.”

He went on to say: “If the government is to reach its ambition of an extra two million people in the labour market by the end of the parliament, this group has a vital role to play.”

The trade body added that the government should rethink plans that could potentially restrict the growth of the self-employed.

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