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Freelancers face debt crisis warns IPSE

5 October 2021

New research has highlighted the plight of freelance workers that did not qualify for government support during the pandemic.

The latest survey by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has found that many freelancers had to use savings, overdrafts and credit card debt just to get by during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings suggest that there is a "debt crisis" among freelancers who were excluded from support. The poll results show that two out of three freelancers' businesses (67%) were negatively affected by the pandemic and that 47% saw a decrease of over 40% in turnover.

As a result, many freelancers had to dip into savings or even borrow money to make ends meet:

  • 27% of freelancers used up all their savings during the pandemic;
  • 23% of freelancers took on credit card debt to get by;
  • 14% used their overdrafts.

Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, said: "While the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been a vital lifeline for many self-employed people, it cannot be ignored that many others were unable to access it. There were approximately 1.5 million newly self-employed people, limited company directors and others who were excluded.

"These excluded groups have now been driven into a debt crisis and we urge government to look at the situation and consider debt relief measures to get these freelancers back on their feet … the financial consequences of the pandemic - and of the exclusion of so many freelancers from support - will be felt for years to come."

He added: "We also urge government to plan now for better support if there are renewed restrictions this winter. The exclusion debacle was a disaster for millions of freelancers and others across the country: this must not happen again."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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