Prime Minister David Cameron meets UK’s top freelancers

Wednesday 26 November 2014

As part of the celebrations and events surrounding National Freelancers Day on November 19th, some of the UK’s top self-employed professionals visited Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10 Downing Street.

The visitors were winners of a competition that sought to find the UK’s best freelancers and self-employed workers, with hopes they could help to demonstrate the benefits of taking such a career path to perhaps the most powerful man in the country.

Freelancers, limited company contractors and umbrella company contractors have been calling on the government to provide more help and support when it comes to tax issues, training and general support for those who work for themselves.

Competition winner Rebecca Shipham, an exhibition designer based in Hull, was joined by runners-up Sarah Dawkins, a registered nurse from South Wales and Andrew Butler, a freelance cameraman based in London. Also in attendance was the newly appointed “freelance tsar” David Morris MP.

The 15 for 2015 competition was run by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, one of the main driving forces behind National Freelancers Day.

WIth recent figures suggesting that more than four million people in the UK are self-employed, and more expected to take such a path, it is becoming increasingly important that freelancers and contractors are represented fairly.

Ms Shipham decided to start her own business during the recession, after being made redundant by her former employers. This is a similar story for many self-employed workers, who endeavoured to seek out opportunities during the financial crisis.

“Being made redundant gave me that chance to go home and so, rather than returning with my tail between my legs, I came back with a couple of clients from my time in London and started up on my own,” she said. “As a freelancer, you can do exactly what you want and sometimes it doesn't even feel like work."

Director of policy and external affairs for IPSE Simon McVicker further praised Ms Shipham, noting the enormous success of her small business.

“Rebecca’s imagination in exhibition design has seen her work being acclaimed at exhibitions throughout the world working with corporate giants. Rebecca has impressed all who work with her.”

Mr McVicker was also full of praise for the enthusiasm Mr Cameron had for meeting the competition winners, observing that the Prime Minister showed particular interest in their careers while also sympathising with the issues they face daily as a self-employed worker.

The appointment of Mr Morris as the UK’s new freelance tsar was also greeted positively by the IPSE representative, who noted it’s a clear indication of the Prime Minister’s desire to offer support to help small businesses and freelancers to flourish in the typically cutthroat world of business.

“It’s also incredibly encouraging that Mr Cameron recognised the huge contribution that freelancers make to UK plc and the wider economy,” Mr McVicker continued.

In his role, Mr Morris will help to champion the needs of Britain’s growing freelance workforce, with issues currently at the top of his agenda including maternity pay and pensions.

The MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale knows the issues of running a business, having owned five salons for thirty years before he entered the world of politics.

By Victoria McDonnell

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