June General Election: What could this mean for contractors?

18th April 2017

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This morning, in news that must have woken everyone from their post-Easter/return to work stupor, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her plans to call a general election in the UK on Thursday 8th June 2017.  

In what was seen as another u-turn by the Prime Minister, the decision for a snap election caught many people by surprise and provided us with another chapter in the ongoing Brexit saga.

With the negotiations for Britain’s exit out of the European Union now underway, it seemed that Theresa May’s government did not want the distraction of a general election to hinder the challenging two year period of Brexit negotiations. With the initial vote result causing a great deal of unrest and uncertainty last summer, and now the political and economical landscape seeming to have settled, Prime Minister May’s decision to go ahead with negotiations without a mandate seemed to be understandable.

However with the polls showing favour towards the Prime Minister and her Conservative government, Theresa May has seen this as an opportune time to gain her mandate for Brexit, and stabilise the backdrop to her government’s ongoing negotiations. With the news also that the election will take place sooner rather than later, gives further evidence to suggest the government’s quiet confidence they can win their mandate and get on with the job at hand swiftly, rather than let further uncertainty steep in.

Since Brexit last summer, we’ve seen a surge in contractor numbers the past few months. With the result raising a huge level of uncertainty, companies acted with caution and opted for the safe option of temporary and short term hire as opposed to the more costly approach of long term hire.

With Britain now fully in the midst of Brexit negotiations, contractor numbers have been expected to continually rise as Britain goes through a complex and lengthy (2 years) negotiation period where industries would continue to act with caution given the uncertain circumstances.

What does Theresa May’s decision for a snap election mean then for the contractor industry? Especially as it seemed Britain’s next two years were set in stone. What the election announcement did do was surprise many and this impacted markets with the pound climbing to a four month high but with the FTSE 100 tumbling. Economists have commented that the election and its announcement being so unexpected, has added further uncertainty to an already ambiguous market outlook. Despite pollsters favouring a Conservative majority, this as we know in politics is not a certain thing – Donald Trump anyone? The next few weeks leading up to June 8th then will be precarious for numerous industries and investors. Will this mean an even bigger spike for contractors as more companies are given further reason not to be too adventurous in their hiring activity? Or could this mean a slight dwindle in contractor numbers as companies learn from the lessons of last year and try not to show their cards too early and ride out the storm through to June?

Contractors and the self-employed population will also be intrigued for what Theresa May’s plans will be for them if they were to achieve their mandate. We’ve already seen the government’s backtracking earlier this year over the proposed national insurance increase for self-employed. Will this resurface again, or does the Government still see the significance of a vibrant self-employed work force to the UK economy?

The answer to all these question? We can only wait until things become clearer post June 8th.

Could the weeks leading up to the general election be a prosperous time for contractors? Find out, as well as discover a wealth of contracting opportunities, by pre-registering with iContract, the new online platform launching soon that connects contractors with recruiters.