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Monthly Archives: June 2013

What do you need to know when setting up a freelance office for the first time?

Any individual who has been considering quitting the ‘9 to 5’ to set up their own freelance office will probably need little encouragement to do so by our own accountants in Canary Wharf here at Freelancer Accounting (http://www.freelanceraccounting.com). It does, after all, seem to reflect an increasing movement by many people and organisations towards more flexible ways of working. However, you will still need to be organised and disciplined to make the transition work.

The benefits of becoming a freelancer, with an experienced and capable PCG accountant by your side, are many – but it doesn’t suit everyone. Those who want to be able to work more flexibly, choosing their own hours, are certainly likely to welcome becoming freelance, as are those who are sick of long train or motorway commutes. It’s also very cost-effective, both in terms of the initial launch of your company and its subsequent operation. You can also enjoy your home surroundings and amenities and better accommodate the needs of the family, in addition to demonstrating to the tax authorities that you are ‘in business on your own account’.

There are many aspects of freelance working, however, that people do not look forward to so much – such as the potentially increased isolation and boredom and clashes between family and business demands. You may also struggle to switch between a home and work mind-set, and family and neighbours may continually interrupt you while working. There are, though, ways of overcoming these issues that many of the clients of our accountancy services adopt. These include having a separate phone line installed for work purposes, as well as scheduling breaks and taking the time to meet and socialise with people – the latter especially important if you live alone.

Other ways in which you can ensure that your transition to home working is as successful as possible, include simply treating your work time as seriously as you would if you were working in any other office, and ensuring that anyone you share your home with understands this. The most experienced people who use our small business accountants also know the importance of a definable, permanent workspace rather than the kitchen table, and also ensure that they meet the people that they are working with occasionally, given how much more memorable personal contact is than communication via email.

Bear in mind that rules that have been in effect since 2003 mean that business rates don’t normally need to be paid on a home office, subject to certain conditions. These include only using the kind of equipment that might be found in any domestic study and not employing people from the premises, among others. The Valuation Office Agency assesses the ratings and each case is considered on its merits.

New study uncovers the freelance 'north-south divide'

As a southern-based company, Freelancer Accounting (http://www.freelanceraccounting.com) has accountants in Richmond, Guildford, Reading and various other areas in close vicinity to London. But have you ever wondered how the state of play differs between north and south based freelancers? Whichever part of the country or beyond you are based in, the results of a new study from the online freelancer marketplace PeoplePerHour may surprise you.

What was discovered by the research was that the north is actually outpacing the south when it comes to the freelance entrepreneurial boom, with the endeavours that people in cities like Manchester and Leeds set up also more likely to be creative ones compared to those in the south. The research encompassed some 400,000 self-employed workers, with Manchester and Liverpool topping the list of those cities experiencing the greatest rise during the last 12 months. It may shock many of the clients of our contractor accountants, in fact, that only one of the top 10 hot spots was outside northern England and Scotland.

Manchester’s top ranking is thanks to a 163 per cent rise in its self-employed population over the last year, only narrowly ahead of the 162 per cent achieved by Liverpool. Plenty of small business activity in Yorkshire was also found, with Sheffield seeing a 159 per cent increase, Bradford a 143 per cent rise and Halifax a 122 per cent one. Other cities to see increases well in excess of 100 per cent included York, Darlington, Newcastle, Leeds, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Such a strong showing for northern cities can, of course, be attributed in many ways to a tougher labour market, as many of these areas are traditionally more dependent on public sector jobs, and have therefore disproportionately suffered the effects of government cuts amid the continuing economic slowdown. However, it also shows how proactive many northerners have become in response to such challenges.

We can’t pretend that the south was exactly a slouch in comparison, with London’s rise of ‘just’ 101 per cent being balanced out in part by the greater number of people living there. Nonetheless, the difference is marked, with PeoplePerHour’s Xenios Thrasyvoulou stating that the results showed a British labour market “going through a fundamental change.” He added that “traditional employment is unlikely to return to pre-recession levels, as increasingly businesses want a more flexible workforce” – good news for many of our contractor accountancy clients.

It’s fascinating, too, to see the variations in what precisely freelancers are doing in different parts of the country. While services like legal support and general administration are most common among the southern-based users of accountants in London, more creative services – like writing, design and illustration – are more widespread among freelancers in the north. If there’s a definite conclusion that can be drawn, it’s that opportunities abound for self-employed workers across the country, as our established team and clients here at Freelancer Accounting (http://www.freelanceraccounting.com) have long known.