How might Brexit affect freelancers and contractors?

Words, hubbul

After months of delay and deliberation, Article 50 has been triggered and the UK has started the process of negotiating its exit from the European Union.

The length of time it could take to break-away from The EU is relatively unknown, as are the repercussions. Uncertainty is the ticket of the day as Theresa May and her Cabinet takes one big step into the unknown.

And it was the not knowing that made 48% vote remain. Uncertainty is bad for business, bad for the economy. The same questions remain, and we’re still none the wiser. Nobody can be entirely sure how Brexit will play out. 

But for the Brexiteers – who at 52% made up the majority of voters – it’s time for change. And Brexit doesn’t narrow-mindedly shout ‘Little England and Co.’, but instead an important step in freeing ourselves from the shackles and suffocating bureaucracy that hinders The UK as part of The EU.

Of course, whether it’s months or years, time will eventually tell what actually lies in wait for the UK post Brexit. But here’s how life outside of the EU might affect freelancers, contractors and UK business.

Free Movement restricted.

Perhaps the most contentious issue around Brexit, the free movement of people, goods, services and capital is the cornerstone of The EU. As European Citizens, for the time being, we are able to work, trade goods and services and live in any of the 28 member states. Put simply, inside the EU, freelancers will have the freedom of Europe.

What Brexit actually means for Free Movement is a little unclear. Although, as the UK breaks away from the Single Market – an association of countries trading freely with each other without restrictions and tariffs – it's impossible to see this not being affected.

President of The EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is adamant that life outside of the Single Market would spell the end of Free Movement for the UK. In other words, you can't have your cake and eat it.

So for freelancers and contractors working across Europe, Brexit could quite possibly build barriers to business. But for UK-based companies, bringing in overseas talent will inevitably become more difficult, forcing them to hire closer to home, meaning demand for freelancers within the UK could well rise.

But sit tight, we’ll have to see how this one plays out…

Life outside the Single Market.

The Prime Minister recently explained that Brexit “cannot mean membership of the single market”. The UK is preparing to leave the biggest market in the world, and unrestricted access to 500million potential customers in all 28 EU countries. Worrying? Absolutely. A hike in tariffs and rise in the cost of trading around Europe would hit small business the hardest. Without the cashflow or reserves of big business, micro-businesses would suffer. 

But many see this as an opportunity to strengthen ties with bigger global players – The United States, The Middle East, India and China – and strike deals on our terms entirely. For UK freelancers and contractors, it might well become easier to work on projects further afield, with fast-growing and existing economic heavyweights. Again, we must wait and see. 

VAT MOSS a mystery.

VAT Moss is a way to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) if you or your business provides digital services to EU countries. Instead of having to VAT register in every EU country you trade with, VAT MOSS was introduced so you could simply pay it directly to HMRC. Changes to VAT MOSS could well affect many freelancers and contractors in Brexit Britain. But once again, any changes are yet to be announced.

You get the feeling Government have their hands full at the moment…

Uncertainty is the recurring theme. What shape Brexit Britain will take is anyone's guess. There is however one thing we can be sure of - and that is a fundamental shift in the way the UK trades with Europe. We simply cannot expect to break away from The EU and the Single Market, handpicking the benefits as we fancy. For better or for worse, business and in-turn freelancing and contracting will be impacted forever. So strap yourself in, and prepare for life outside the European Union.

How do you see Brexit playing out? Do you think your business will benefit from leaving The EU?

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