The PCG – A Freelancers’ Trade Association

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A Contractor’s Trade Association

Given the current economic climate, and the increasing number of people out of work, it is likely that more people will be turning to freelancing in the near future. There is an organisation that may be useful for anyone considering it, particularly those moving into contracting.

The Professional Contractors Group
The Professional Contractors Group or PCG are a non-profit group that was set up to protect the interests of freelancers and professional contractors. Established in 1999, initially to take on IR35, it rapidly began to take on the other laws that were being introduced which adversely affected freelancers and then began to provide services to its members.

Effectively in many ways, it has now become a union for freelancers and contractors. It allows workers in these fields the flexibility that a traditional union lacks, while making sure that their interests are protected. With over 18,000 members in 2009 it is definitely growing.

Member Services
While most people associate the term contractor with IT consultants, the truth is it covers a wide range, such as substitute teachers, nurses, freelancers and even (thanks to changes in tax law) small businesses. The PCG membership covers many fields, from coach, teaching and training to the expected consultants and professionals. A trade association for contractors, consultants and freelancers, they offer a range of services to their members:

– insurance
– access to legal services
– contract assessment
– help finding work

among others.For freelancers some of the most useful facilities are the banking and finance facilities, which specialise in mortgages and loans for freelancers who cannot conventionally prove their income. However the PCG’s best known work is with tax law.

Lobbying
As well as providing support for their members, the PCG performs work as a lobby, trying to ensure that freelancers rights are heard at the top levels of government.

IR35 and S660, two tax laws that adversely affect freelancers and small businesses, were both introduced to catch IT consultants hiding high wages, but considerable numbers of subsitute teachers and other lower paid freelancers found themselves caught up in it. Representation, and insurance, against these laws are one of the PCG’s main activities. The best known example is the famous Arctic Systems case, a small business hit by Section 6-60, where the PCG took the legal case all the way to the Lords and won against HMRC. Another similar law, IR591, was reduced in scope and effectiveness after extensive lobbying from the PCG.

Leadership
A democratic body, the Board and Chairman are elected from the membership on an annual basis. As many are active on the forum, it is possible to contact them directly if required.

In Conclusion
Membership costs vary depending on what type of company you work for, and what facilities you need. However for someone who plans to begin contracting, this is a good place to find help and advice, even if you do not elect to join.

This is an unofficial overview. For the latest news and official details please see their website:

The official PCG site: http://www.pcg.org.uk/cms/index.php

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