IPSE hosts 'Going it Alone' event

Monday 29 September 2014

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), held an event to discuss the rapid rise of people working as limited companies, sole traders and other self employed professionals in the last year.

It was the first ever fringe event held by IPSE, formerly known as PCG, which was held at the Labour party conference in partnership with the think-tank Demos.

Among the guests that attended the event, titled Going it Alone, were members of Parliament, Parliamentary candidates, journalists and representatives from IPSE.

Panellists at the event were people who had gained experience in self employment or in a small business.

They were MP for Feltham and Heston and former consultant Seema Malhotra, freelance journalist and prospective parliamentary candidate for Southamption Itchen Rowenna Davis, former MP and Labour Minister and adviser to IPSE on political engagement Doug Henderson, research director at Demos and author of the Going it Alone report Duncan O'Leary and advocate on the issue of late payment and MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams. Chairing the event was Stephen Bush from the Daily Telegraph.

At the start of the event, Ms Abrahams outlined the fact that there had been a significant rise in the number of people in self employment, the reasons why this is and why the flexible labour market is crucial to making sure the UK can remain a competitive place to work. She also talked about some of the risk facing the most vulnerable self employed people and why it is vital that late payments is an issue that gets resolved soon.

One of the points discussed by the panelists was that they wish to see a proper policy in place that works with people in self employment. This was spoken about by Ms Malhotra, who said that the publication by IPSE of a self employment manifesto was a step in the right direction. She also explained how self employment is a good option for women who wish to get a good work and life balance.

Author of the Going it Alone report, Mr O'Leary, explained some of the policy proposals that had been included, which cover such issues as ensuring self employed professionals receive maternity pay, more action on pensions and the installation of a small business conciliation service.

Ms Davis, however, pointed out the lack of protection that she herself has faced as a freelancer and concerns relating to self employment. Through a policy aimed at helping freelancers, which was outlined by Demos, she said she hopes to see issues addressed that include maternity pay and training.

Closing the event was IPSE representative Mr Henderson, who expressed his agreement with many of the proposals put forward in the Going it Alone report. However, he said that politicians need to be careful to balance risk against reward when deciding what changes to make for self employed professionals. His speech was also intended to bust some of the myths related to self employment. Mr Henderson pointed out the fact that most of the people who work in this way are there by choice and are happy.

By Victoria McDonnell

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