IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has itemised five key action points for the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, if he is to help the capital’s 391,000 freelancing and contracting professionals:
- Draw on the talents of independent professionals for London’s new big-scale projects
There are vast projects in London’s pipeline: the regeneration of Euston Station as part of HS2, Crossrail 2, the £563m upgrade of Bank Station, the iconic new Garden Bridge and a major new £4.3bn “super-sewer” below the Thames, to mention but a few.
IPSE points out that Umbrella Company Employees and other freelancers will be crucial for ensuring that these projects proceed on budget and on time, and it calls on Mr Khan to set a contractor and microbusiness target for each of them.
- Equip the capital’s rail network with free Wi-Fi
Freelancing/contracting workers travel further to fulfil projects than anyone else, IPSE says, and they need to work while on the move. IPSE urges the Mayor to make agreements with rail franchises so that the city’s commuter services are equipped with free Wi-Fi. This should extend to Wi-Fi receivers on Transport for London’s Overground and, potentially, Underground rail carriages.
- Push the Government for a fast decision on airport expansion
The decision as to which airport should build a new runway has been repeatedly deferred for political (rather than environmental or economic) reasons. Ten per cent of freelancers work abroad and need the infrastructure to continue doing so. More air capacity is widely seen as essential for London’s growth – every month of delay is a further month of lost growth.
- Promote co-working spaces as drivers of growth
Co-working “workhubs” allow freelancers to network, collaborate and learn from each other. They’re cheaper than conventional office spaces and offer a vastly superior alternative to the coffee shop for freelancers to work. Mr Khan should recognise them as “places where big ideas happen” and encourage London’s local councils to make online maps available showing empty properties, simplifying the planning system in the process.
- Stick to his pledge to make half of all new housing affordable
Getting onto the London property ladder is extraordinarily difficult for some freelancers due to their fluctuating income. Mr Khan had noted during his campaign that just 13 per cent of new housing under his predecessor fell into the “affordable” category (i.e., priced at 80 per cent of the market value). As IPSE’s Press Officer, Mark Williams, puts it:
“So it’s down to him to put it right. And the many thousands of freelancers in the construction sector will, of course, play a key role.”