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Freelancers regularly fall behind on bills due to late payments

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The financial situation of the UK’s army of freelancers has been laid bare on National Freelancer’s Day.

According to ETZ Payments, 2.6 million skilled workers regularly miss bill payments due to not being paid on time.

The software firm calculated that 15 per cent of UK workers have had to turn to payday and other short-term lenders due to inconsistent payments for freelance work. This rises to 17 per cent of ‘middle class’ freelance workers, equating to 3.4 million Brits.

ETZ Payments pointed out that although zero hours contracts and freelance work has traditionally been perceived as an arena for low-skilled workers such as taxi and delivery drivers, self-employment has become a lucrative life-choice of the middle-classes with consultants, project managers, data scientists and specialists often working on a freelance basis.

The study, which polled 2003 UK adults, showed that 4.3 million middle class (ABC 1) workers have made the jump to working freelance from the traditional nine-to-five.

It found that 8 million working Brits – 25 per cent – can’t afford big ticket commitments such as weddings, holidays, and home improvements due to the freelance payment structure. This trend translates to a quarter of middle class workers, representing 4.8 million Brits.

It also found that nearly half of the UK workforce – 47 per cent of British workers – would convert from a traditional role to working flexibly if they knew that they would get paid regularly. This rises to 52 per cent of middle class workers, equating to 8.5 million workers.

Nick Woodward, CEO of ETZ Payments, said: “It is startling to see the sheer number of middle-class British workers who are having to leave freelance work due to the ongoing stress of chasing invoices. It should be a norm that in today’s workplace, with modern technology, that freelance workers should be able to complete a job and be paid for it on either the same or next day. Millions of workers are being held back in life because their employers are not paying them properly or on time. This has to change to help people have a more productive and happier work life balance and to support the British economy.”

The government announced earlier this week that it intends to crack down on bigger businesses which have poor payment practices towards their smaller suppliers and contractors. Plans include holding company boards accountable for payment practices to small businesses within their companies, and fines for late payers.