Survey highlights mental health stresses of Covid-19 for self employed

A new survey shows many freelancers and contractors have suffered increased stress as a result of Covid-19, with many saying Government support has been inadequate.

Woman leans on a table looking depressed


Half of contractors and freelancers have suffered financial hardship as a result of Covid-19, with 70% saying the pandemic has created new stressors for them, according to a new survey.

The survey of over 1,000 freelancers and contractors by ContractorCalculator found that 55% say the Government’s response to Covid-19 has exacerbated their stress levels and that 68% are less trustful of Government following its handling of Covid-19. The vast majority of those surveyed operate under limited companies and so have missed out on the Government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme – only 6% say the support available from Government for the self employed has been adequate.

The survey also found that:

  • 33% of contractors haven’t worked at all following lockdown
  • A further 28% claim to have lost ‘some or most’ of their work
  • 48% have serious concerns about sourcing new work
  • 88% had financial savings prior to the pandemic, with 53% using some of their cash reserves to support them during lockdown
  • 77% of contractors believe the coronavirus support available to the UK’s self-employed to be inadequate
  • 62% deemed business loans an unhelpful form of relief
  • 24% are considering going into permanent employment with 88% citing changes to Off-Payroll as a key factor and 76% stressing concerns about finding freelance work

With regard to stress caused by Covid-19,  30% say stress or anxiety has impaired their ability to work. Over half of self employed parents [58%] have had to home school their children and half of these say this has negatively affected their ability to work. Over half – 55% – say the Government’s response to their predicament has been the greatest source of stress.

Despite the stressors, 58% say Covid-19 has meant they have been able to spend more time with family and friends and 37% believe it has contributed to a better work/life balance. 46% of respondents claim to be exercising more frequently since lockdown and 31% of respondents report having lost weight, compared with 21% who have gained weight.

Dave Chaplin, CEO of ContractorCalculator and IR35 Shield, said: “Contractors have been heavily affected by Covid-19 and many have grave concerns about their future. Government support for the self-employed has fallen short of the mark so it is little wonder that our survey sees 70% of contractors feeling stressed.  Confidence amongst the flexible workforce appears to be at an all-time low, at a time when the economy will be looking to those crucial contingent workers to underpin its recovery.

“The Off-Payroll Tax combined with Covid-19 has hit freelancers hard, but this resilient workforce is staying active and busy which seems like a sound tactic to help them navigate this difficult period.”

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